Californians & Education

May 18, 2011

Most Californians are very concerned that the state’s budget deficit will result in cuts to public schools, the area of the budget they most want to protect, according to a statewide survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), To maintain current funding for K–12 education, a strong majority favor raising income taxes for the wealthiest Californians, but most oppose raising the state sales tax or personal income taxes overall.

California has the largest K–12 public education system in the nation. It also has a highly diverse student population: more than half are economically disadvantaged, a quarter are English learners and 11 percent have developmental, physical, emotional, or learning disabilities. Latinos (50 percent) make up the largest racial/ethnic group of students, followed by whites (27 percent), Asians (12 percent), and blacks (7 blacks).

Asked about some of the challenges in the state’s K–12 education system, residents are most likely to view the high school dropout rate (74 percent) as a big problem, followed by student achievement (46 percent) and teacher quality (44 percent). The proportion of adults who view the dropout rate as a big problem is at a new high. Eighty-three percent of Latinos hold this view.

The share of Californians who say teacher quality is a big problem is also at a record high. Among racial and ethnic groups, Latinos (75 percent) are the most likely to say so.

Although most Californians say local public schools do not get enough funding, they have generally positive views of their own schools. There are differences across racial and ethnic groups: Latinos (59 percent) are more likely to give their local school an A or B.


Most Californians (85 percent) believe the quality of education in California’s K–12 public schools is at least somewhat of a problem, with over half calling it a big problem. Blacks are by far the most likely racial/ethnic group to say quality is a big problem, while Latinos are the least likely.

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The perception that teacher quality is a big problem is highest in the Inland Empire (52 percent), followed by the San Francisco Bay Area, Orange/San Diego Counties, Los Angeles, and the Central Valley (39 percent). Asians, blacks, and whites are more likely than Latinos to hold this view.

Across racial/ethnic groups, blacks (70 percent) are much more likely than whites (57 percent), and are far more likely than Asians (48 percent) or Latinos (41 percent) to say that California’s public schools are doing a not so good or poor job in preparing students for college; a majority of Latinos (57 percent) give positive ratings.

Source: Public Policy Institute of California, “PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Education - Worried About Budget’s Toll on Schools, Most Californians Favor Income Tax Hike—But Only for Wealthiest,”  April 27, 2011.

By Myriam Grajales-Hall
Posted By - Communications Manager