A few questions from the recent High Point University Education Poll are questionable. For example, it is not surprising that 64% of respondents favored “a statewide bond referendum to provide North Carolina school districts with funds to address an estimated 8 to 10-billion-dollar backlog in school construction and renovation.” The question did not identify the amount of the bond nor its total cost. The fact that 64% believe that teachers are paid too little is consistent with other polls, but I suspect that the percentage would have been lower if the question mentioned the average compensation for a public school teacher.
The most important question in the poll was this one: “Would you be willing to pay more in taxes so that North Carolina TEACHERS would be paid at the level of the national average within five years?” Again, pollsters did not inform respondents of the estimated tax increase required to do so. Regardless, only 53% said that they would be willing to pay more taxes, and a plurality would not be willing to pay higher taxes to increase the pay of principals.
Respondents have a high regard for teachers and principals. Even superintendents have majority support. But support and disapproval for members of school boards, county commissions, the superintendent of public instruction, and the State Board of Education were almost evenly split.
Finally, a plurality believes that public schools are headed in the wrong direction. I suspect that respondents would have been more approving of schools in their community.