February 24, 2011 - Base Teacher Firings On Merit, New Yorkers Say 7-1, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters Like Teachers But Not Their Unions

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If school systems must lay off teachers, the layoffs should be based on performance, not seniority, New York State voters say 85 - 12 percent in a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Support for performance-based layoffs is strong among all groups, including 75 - 20 percent among voters in households with a union member, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN- uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Voters with children in public school back performance-based layoffs 90 - 7 percent.

By a 50 - 22 percent margin, New York State voters have a favorable opinion of public school teachers, with 25 percent who haven't heard enough about them to form an opinion. Parents of public school students have a 60 - 22 percent favorable opinion.

But voters say 51 - 39 percent that teachers' unions play a negative rather than a positive role in improving the state's educational system. Public school parents say 56 - 37 percent that teachers' unions play a negative role while voters in union households say 50 - 44 percent that teachers' unions play a positive role.

"By a huge majority, voters from every group oppose LIFO - last-in-first-out," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Voters, especially voters with kids in public school, want to keep the best teachers on the job, and to heck with seniority.

"All those ads by the teachers' union may not be working exactly as planned: New Yorkers like the people who teach their kids, but they don't like the union that placed the ads."

"And voters reject by almost 2-1 margins some fundamental pillars of teacher contracts: They support 64 - 33 percent merit pay for outstanding teachers and they say 62 - 33 percent it should be easier to fire bad teachers," Carroll added.

A total of 63 percent of New York State voters are "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" that Albany's focus on the state budget deficit might prevent passage of ethics reform legislation. This concern is shared by all groups in all areas of the state.

Similarly, a total of 56 percent of voters are "very concerned" of "somewhat concerned" that focus on the state budget might prevent passage of non-partisan redistricting legislation. Again concern is shared by all groups and regions.

"Will focus on the budget imperil the chances of changes in ethics rules? Voters are worried," Carroll said. "They're worried, too, about the chances of non-partisan legislative and congressional re-districting." Same-Sex Marriage

New York State voters support 54 - 39 percent legislation that would allow same-sex couples to marry. This compares to 56 - 37 percent support in a January 27 Quinnipiac University poll.

In today's survey, same-sex marriage wins 68 - 23 percent support among Democrats and 56 - 38 percent support among independent voters. Republicans oppose the measure 65 - 31 percent. The measure wins support among upstate, suburban and New York City voters by similar margins. Men support it 52 - 43 percent while women support it 56 - 35 percent.

Support for same-sex marriage is:
  • 62 - 35 percent among voters 18 to 34 years old;
  • 64 - 29 percent among voters 35 to 49 years old;
  • 52 - 42 percent among voters 50 to 64 years old;
  • Voters over 65 are opposed 48 - 42 percent.
"Everyone supports same-sex marriage, except Republicans and senior citizens," Carroll said.

From February 15 - 21, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,457 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio and the nation as a public service and for research. For more data or RSS feed- http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.xml, call (203) 582-5201, or follow us on Twitter.

27. How concerned are you that the state government's focus on the budget deficit might prevent passage of ethics reform legislation? Very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not concerned at all?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Very concerned       19%    15%    20%    21%    20%    19%    22%
Smwht concerned      44     42     46     44     39     49     44
Not too concerned    20     23     18     21     25     15     20
Not at all concerned 10     13     10      9     12      8     10
DK/NA                 6      7      7      5      5      8      3
 
 
28. How concerned are you that the state government's focus on the budget deficit might prevent passage of non-partisan redistricting legislation? Very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not concerned at all?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Very concerned       17%    15%    16%    16%    19%    15%    20%
Smwht concerned      39     38     41     38     36     41     35
Not too concerned    23     19     24     24     23     22     24
Not at all concerned 15     23     11     14     17     13     17
DK/NA                 7      5      8      8      5      9      4
 
 
29. Is your opinion of New York State's public school teachers favorable, unfavorable, or haven't you heard enough about them?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Favorable            50%    42%    57%    51%    50%    50%    60%
Unfavorable          22     32     16     20     27     18     18
Hvn't hrd enough     25     24     25     26     21     28     19
REFUSED               3      2      3      3      2      3      2
 
                                          HvKids
                     UpStat NYC    Sub    PubSch
 
Favorable            50%    51%    49%    60%
Unfavorable          23     20     25     22
Hvn't hrd enough     25     25     24     16
REFUSED               2      4      2      2
 
 
30. Generally speaking, do you believe the teachers' unions are playing a positive or a negative role in improving New York State's educational system?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Positive             39%    24%    55%    33%    38%    41%    50%
Negative             51     71     34     56     57     46     44
DK/NA                10      6     11     10      5     13      7
 
                                          HvKids
                     UpStat NYC    Sub    PubSch
 
Positive             33%    50%    34%    37%
Negative             57     38     61     56
DK/NA                10     12      5      7
 
TREND: Generally speaking, do you believe the teachers' unions are playing a positive or a negative role in improving New York State's educational system?
                     Feb 24  Apr 15
                     2011    2004
 
Positive             39      48
Negative             51      35
DK/NA                10      17
 
 
31. Some people say that public school teachers who do an outstanding job should be rewarded with additional pay - so called merit pay. Do you think this is a good idea or a bad idea?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Good idea            64%    63%    64%    65%    68%    61%    62%
Bad idea             33     35     33     33     30     36     37
DK/NA                 3      3      4      2      2      3      2
 
                                          HvKids
                     UpStat NYC    Sub    PubSch
 
Good idea            60%    69%    64%    64%
Bad idea             38     28     32     34
DK/NA                 2      3      4      2
 
 
32. Some people have suggested that firing public school teachers should be made easier. Do you think this is a good idea or a bad idea?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Good idea            62%    73%    51%    68%    64%    60%    57%
Bad idea             33     25     43     29     33     34     38
DK/NA                 5      2      5      4      3      6      5
 
                                          HvKids
                     UpStat NYC    Sub    PubSch
 
Good idea            67%    53%    70%    69%
Bad idea             28     43     27     27
DK/NA                 5      4      4      4
 
 
33. If public school administrators need to lay off teachers, do you think they should lay off teachers based on their performance or based on seniority?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Seniority            12%    11%    14%     9%    14%    10%    20%
Performance          85     85     81     88     84     86     75
DK/NA                 4      3      5      3      3      5      5
 
                                          HvKids
                     UpStat NYC    Sub    PubSch
 
Seniority            13%    11%    11%     7%
Performance          85     85     83     90
DK/NA                 2      4      5      3
 
 
34. Would you support or oppose a law that would allow same-sex couples to get married?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Support              54%    31%    68%    56%    52%    56%    56%
Oppose               39     65     23     38     43     35     37
DK/NA                 7      4      9      6      5      9      7
 
                     UpStat NYC    Sub    18-34  35-49  50-64  65+
 
Support              53%    53%    57%    62%    64%    52%    42%
Oppose               41     38     37     35     29     42     48
DK/NA                 6      8      6      3      7      7     10
 
TREND: Would you support or oppose a law that would allow same-sex couples to get married?
                     Feb 24  Jan 27  Dec 16  Jun 23  May 14  Apr 15
                     2011    2011    2009    2009    2009    2004
 
Support              54      56      47      51      46      37
Oppose               39      37      46      41      46      55
DK/NA                 7       7       7       8       8       8