Quinnipiac: N.J. backs merit pay, but wants to make it easier to fire bad teachers

New Jerseyans support merit pay for outstanding teachers, 66%-31%, but want to make it easier to fire a bad teacher, 64%-31%, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this morning.  By a 48%-39% margin, voters say that teacher unions play a negative role in improving New Jersey’s education system, and by a 66%-27% margin, think that Gov. Christopher Christie will get tough with those unions. 

Residents are mixed on public school teacher salaries:  22% say they are too high, 28% of voters say they’re too low, and 44% say they’re about right. 

“Maybe it was the campaign rhetoric.  Maybe it’s the (Bret) Schundler appointment.   Whatever, New Jerseyans expect Christie to get tough with a long-time sacred cow, the teachers union,” said Maurice Carroll, the poll director.  The teachers’ unions get bad marks.  Almost half say they’re a negative influence,” Carroll said.

Among voters with children attending public schools, approval of merit pay is at 68%-30%, and support of easier firings – tenure reform – is at 66%-30%.  Union households support merit pay (60%-38%) and easier firings (59%-33%).  Black voters oppose the idea of making it easier to fire teachers (54%-38%), while White voters back it (72%-23%).  Men back tenure reform (68%-27%) more strongly than women (60%-35%).

New Jerseyans oppose expanding charter schools, 52%-40%. 

“Gov. Christie’s and Commissioner Schundler’s support for charter schools doesn’t resonate with voters, except for black, urban voters who are most dissatisfied with their public schools,” Carroll explained.

Opposition to more charter schools is stronger among union households (65%-29%) and among parents with children who attend public schools (55%-38%). Urban voters back charter schools 53%-43%, and support among Black voters is at 52%-43%.  More than half of Republican voters oppose charter school expansion.

Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,175 New Jersey voters from January 13-18, with a margin of error of +/- 2.9%.

Quinnipiac: N.J. backs merit pay, but wants to make it easier to fire bad teachers