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EXCLUSIVE: New Poll Shows Support for Walker, School Reforms

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As Governor Walker gets set to deliver his state of the State address this week, a new poll set to be released Monday shows broad support for an agenda of public education reforms, including expanding school choice and changing the way that educators are evaluated and hired.

The statewide poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, uses a sample that mirrors the +7 percent Democratic edge from last November’s election. Even with that Democrat-leaning sample, the poll found that Walker, who survived a recall effort last year, now enjoys a 55 percent job approval rating, including 61 percent of among independents. (The pollsters note that “2014's midterm elections will likely be significantly less Democratic and significantly older.”)

The poll found the public still sharply divided over his collective bargaining reforms, with a slim 46 plurality supporting those changes (45 percent said they were opposed). But the pollsters found an uptick in voter optimism, with 51 percent now saying that Wisconsin is headed in the right direction, while 42 percent say the state is on the wrong track. (The poll was conducted Jan. 6-7.)

Perhaps most interesting for legislative budget writers:

*Sixty-one percent of the voters said they support “Expanding Wisconsin’s school choice program to allow every Wisconsin child to attend the public or private, including religious schools, of their choice.”

*Eighty percent of voters support “Using a report card for schools and grading them on a scale of A, B, C, D or F.”

*Seventy-two percent support “Changing Wisconsin’s teacher and principal evaluation system to include measurements of growth in student learning, performance and achievement and compensate employees based on student progress.”

*Eighty-five percent of the voters support (actual question wording) “Changing Wisconsin’s last in/first out policy from one based on seniority to one based on teacher performance; so in times when teachers are laid off, poorer  performing teachers are laid off first while better performing teachers are kept.”

The poll was conducted for the Michigan based Education Action Education Action Group and has a margin of error of +/- 4.38% More details will be avaulable later Monday.


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