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Jacksonville Poll Respondents: Teachers Are Important And Should Be Paid More

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Lindsey Kilbride
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WJCT News
Jacksonville Public Education Fund President Trey Csar presents his nonprofit’s fourth annual public opinion poll.";

Duval County poll respondents said good, effective teachers are important to them when sending their child off to a school and they feel teachers starting off are being paid nearly $10,000 too little.

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Credit JPEF
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JPEF

This comes out of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund’s fourth annual public opinion poll in which more than 40 percent of respondents were parents.

Respondents named education as the second most important issue facing Jacksonville after crime, and before the economy and transportation.

They emphasized their appreciation of teachers. Of the parents polled, 86 percent said their children’s teachers are very or somewhat effective. In addition, out of all the respondents, 39 percent said attracting and keeping high quality teachers should be the top priority for Duval’s next superintendent. That priority was ranked number one among the 10 choices provided.

The reputation of good teachers mattered the most to parents when enrolling their children in schools, followed by test scores and safety.

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JPEF

However, respondents said the average salary of a first-year teacher with a Bachelor’s degree, currently at $39,500, should increase to $48,173 according to the median calculation. All ages, political parties, races and sides of town agreed a pay raise is needed.  

Millennials ages 18-34 who were polled expect new teachers to get even higher salaries of  about $51,000. JPEF President Trey Csar said that could be an issue when trying to recruit those millennials to become teachers. He said hopefully this data can help guide elected officials.

“[It] does impact the decision makers both in the school system and across the state to say ‘these are our voters, these are our community members’ and start to shift policies in reaction to those results,” Csar said.

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JPEF

Three-fourths of respondents support some kind of tax increase for public education, up one percentage point from last year and 15 percentage points from 2014.

However, Csar noted more respondents answered “Don’t Know” to more questions than in prior years. For instance when asked of their perception of K-12 education compared to a year ago fewer people picked “Better” by 6 percentage points compared to last year’s poll and more people picked “Don’t Know”  by 5 percentage points.

He calls this trend “civic uncertainty” and said it could be attributed to changes happening in district leadership including a school board election and superintendent search, as well as changes to education at a state level.

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JPEF

More than 90 percent of respondents said they can’t name their school board representative and 40 percent said they weren’t aware of Duval’s superintendent search.

“The community has got to be involved in both of those processes in order to make sure that we get the strongest leaders as possible to help run our system,” Csar said.

Csar said he sees these polls as a way to spark conversations.

“I think it’s an opportunity for this community to really re-invest in learning more and helping to set the direction of where we want to go over the coming five or 10 years,” he said.

Nearly 700 residents were polled by cell phone and landline numbers and their demographics were weighted to reflect the city in gender, education and race. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.71 percentage points.  Thirty percent of respondents were Democrats, 29 percent Republicans and almost a quarter had no party affiliation.

The survey was conducted Nov. 27-Dec. 8 by the Public Opinion Research Laboratory at the University of North Florida.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at@lindskilbride.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.