Home>Education>Poll: Mixed reviews for New Jersey’s public school systems

(Photo: Shutterstock).

Poll: Mixed reviews for New Jersey’s public school systems

Public schools get a 53%-41% approval rating

By Ricky Suta, September 14 2023 5:00 am

New Jerseyans have mixed opinions about their local school districts, giving them a narrow 53%-41% approval rating, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll conducted in partnership with Project Ready released today.

The poll comes at a time when school districts have become politically polarized with disputes over sex education curriculum and issues of parental choice.  But the poll was conducted last spring, three months before the New Jersey Board of Education narrowly approved new equity and gender rules.

Approval numbers came with a high degree of partisanship, with Democrats more than twice as likely to say their local school systems were excellent; 27% of Democrats compared to 12% of Republicans and 14%^ of independents.

“New Jersey is known for having some of the best public schools in the country, but it also has some of the most underserved and segregated, so it is no surprise that we have seen mixed views on overall public school performance throughout our 50 years of polling,” said Ashley Koning, the director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University.

There wasn’t a noticeable difference between parents and non-parents in the poll results, although parents were a little more likely to say that schools were doing a poor job.

On the issue of school safety, there were signs of partisan and racial divisions.

While 78% of New Jerseyans feel their schools are very or somewhat safe, just 20% of Black residents ranked schools as very safe.

“While most residents say their schools are safe to some degree, when we look beneath the surface, we see that our education system remains a tale of two cities,” said Shennell McCloud, Project Ready’s chief executive officer.  “When Black and Hispanic residents are more than twice as likely as white residents to say their schools are not safe, we are letting our children down.  Our communities deserve better and must be integral partners in forging solutions, drawing from their wealth of knowledge and experiences.”

The poll found that the biggest safety concerns were guns and school shootings, along with school security measures.   Democrats (31%)  prioritized the former, while Republicans (25%) viewed the latter as the most pressing concern.  Independents were split: 20% said security measures and 18% cited school shootings as the main safety problems affecting schools.

Views on parental notification of students’ gender identities, which Republicans have increasingly focused on, were not included in the poll.

The Rutgers-Eagleton poll had a sample size of 1,002 adults and a margin of error of +/- 3.6%.

Spread the news: