A new poll of likely voters has found deep support for early education programs here in Massachusetts.
Sponsored by local public radio station WBUR and conducted by The MassINC Polling Group, the poll asked participants which candidates they favored in the upcoming gubernatorial race. Pollsters also asked about early education and about the election’s ballot questions on gambling and worker sick leave.
The support for early education was impressive. As WBUR explains in an article, “Half of those polled (251) were asked whether they would support or oppose a plan to provide comprehensive early childhood education, and 73 percent said they would support it. The other half of respondents were asked whether they would support or oppose raising taxes to provide comprehensive early childhood education, and 53 percent still supported the idea.”
Specifically, the WBUR poll asked, “Would you support or oppose a plan to provide comprehensive early childhood education to all children in Massachusetts?” The response: Support 73 percent; Oppose 17 percent; and Don’t Know / Refused 10 percent.
The other poll question was: “Would you support or oppose a plan to raise taxes to provide comprehensive early childhood education to all children in Massachusetts?” The response to this question: Support 53 percent; Oppose 35 percent; and Don’t Know / Refused 11 percent.
Pollsters surveyed “502 likely voters in the November 2014 Massachusetts general election. These questions were asked September 16-21, 2014… Live telephone interviews were conducted via both landline and cell phone using conventional registration based sampling procedures. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is +/- 4.4 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence.”
Gubernatorial candidates — Republican Charlie Baker and Democrat Martha Coakley — have expressed their support for early education.
Baker supports targeted pre-K, WBUR reports, explaining, “At a press conference last week, Baker insisted he too supports aspects of early education, but criticized the way ‘universal pre-K’ is defined.
“‘I’m all for targeted pre-K,’ Baker said at a press conference to roll out his new jobs plan. ‘My view on this is – sure, we should do more, sure, we should shore up the stuff we currently do, but we gotta make sure that the kids who come out of that system are going into elementary school systems where they’re going to get the kind of education they need to get the benefit associated with the pre-K in the first place.’”
Coakley has called for spending $150 million for a “plan to get Massachusetts children off waitlists for early childhood education programs,” the Boston Globe reports. Coakley would move some 17,000 children off the wait list.
According to WBUR’s article: “Coakley has said she wants to ensure access to early childhood education, particularly in Gateway Cities, eliminating the wait list by expanding a voucher program for low-income families to send their children to preschool.”
Early education policy got more attention from Baker, Coakley, and three independent gubernatorial candidates at last night’s debate in Springfield.
Debates aside, however, the consensus-driving good news is that whichever candidate becomes the next Governor of Massachusetts, he or she will find strong public support for improving children’s access to high-quality preschool programs.