With barely a month before the November election, the most recent polls show that three education-related ballot initiatives have garnered significant public support among registered voters.
But passage is not assured in all three cases.
The polls show that passage seems likely in the case of Proposition 55, which will extend what was supposed to be a temporary income tax for high-income earners, and Proposition 58, giving school districts more control and flexibility in implementing bilingual education programs.
Far less certain is the fate of Proposition 51, which would authorize a $9 billion school construction bond measure.
All of the public polls were conducted in mid-September. Mark DiCamillo, the director of the Field Poll, cautioned that while the polls indicate how the public is leaning, “polls conducted in the final week of the election will be much more definitive,” especially because, by then, many voters will have voted by mail.
Here are summaries of the propositions, and the latest available public poll results:
Prop. 51 will authorize a $9 billion state construction and modernization bonds for K-12 public schools, charter schools, vocational education facilities and community colleges.
According to a PPIC poll, conducted Sept. 9–18, 47 percent of voters said they would vote ‘yes’ on the measure, while 43 percent said they would oppose it. The initiative garnered more support from public school parents, 52 percent of whom said they would vote “yes.” Forty-six percent of respondents in households without children indicated they would support it.
PPIC President Mark Baldassare said typically state school bond measures reflect 60 percent support in PPIC polls. “The fact that it came in under 60 and below, what we’ve seen from earlier polling is a surprise and might speak to the structure of the initiative and the amount and what people are hearing about the fiscal impacts,” he said. “All of which show that the ‘yes’ side has work to do if it hopes to get a majority support.”
PROP. 55: Tax extension to fund education and healthcare
Prop. 55 would extend temporary personal income tax increases that were enacted in 2012 on residents earning more than $250,000 per year. These funds would be allocated in part to K-12 schools and California Community Colleges, as well additional support for the state’s Medi-Cal program. The initiative would raise from $4 billion to $9 billion annually.
The PPIC poll, also conducted Sept. 9–8, shows 54 percent of Californians support the income tax increase extension while 35 percent of voters opposed the measure, with only 8 percent undecided. In a USC Dornsife/LA Times Poll last month, 57 percent were in favor and 35 percent were opposed, while 8 percent were undecided. In an online Field Poll, conducted in partnership UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, a 60 percent majority said they would vote in favor of the tax extension, while 30 percent said they would vote “no.”
PROP. 58: English proficiency/Multilingual education
Prop. 58 would effectively repeal certain provisions of Prop. 227, a controversial initiative approved by voters in 1998, requiring English-only immersion instruction for non-English proficient students.
The initiative would allow public schools and districts to work with parents and communities to determine the best approach to educating non-native English speakers, which could include English-only instruction, bilingual instruction or other programs. Instruction would no longer be mandated to be taught in English.
An online Field Poll, conducted Sept. 7–13 in partnership with UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, showed that 69 percent of registered voters said they would vote in favor of the proposition. Only 14 percent were opposed to it, with 17 percent undecided. However, support took a dive when voters were told the initiative would repeal key aspects of Prop. 227 and that it could allow “some students to take some classes in their native language for years.” The Field Poll’s DiCamillo indicated that voters are unlikely to look at all the details of the measure, especially because of the lack of publicity around this initiative and the length of the ballot. “Based on our early poll, prospects (for passage) are looking good,” he said.
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