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EXCLUSIVE: Sacred Heart Director on What Voters, Legislators Should Take From Latest Poll

May 3, 2018 By Staff
EXCLUSIVE: Sacred Heart Director on What Voters, Legislators Should Take From Latest Poll

Reclaim Connecticut spoke to Dr. Lesley DeNardis about Sacred Heart's quarterly poll, the latest edition of which was released last week.

Connecticut residents value education, they want to see more spending on education, and they want increased spending to come from the state and not from property tax hikes.

Those are some of the top takeaways from the Sacred Heart University Institute for Public Policy’s first-quarter poll of Connecticut residents, according to Dr. Lesley DeNardis, the executive director of SHU’s Institute for Public Policy.

Reclaim Connecticut covered one part of the poll, on quality of life in Connecticut, last week.

STATE OF SCHOOLS

DeNardis talked to Reclaim Connecticut on Thursday about the poll results, focusing in particular on Sacred Heart’s questions to Connecticut residents on the state of the state’s education.

“I would say that Connecticut residents value education highly,” DeNardis said, when asked for her top takeways from this poll. “They want to support it financially. They’d like to see greater resources dedicated to it, [and] coming from state government as opposed to local property taxes.”

DeNardis also noted later in the interview that Connecticut residents are concerned about the “achievement gap” in Connecticut’s education system – the fact that many non-white students are at risk of “being left behind,” compared to white students, in some of Connecticut’s urban centers.

MOST SURPRISING RESULT?

DeNardis said the most surprising finding to her was Connecticut residents’ strong support of charter schools.

“I thought that the level of support for charter schools [was most surprising],” DeNardis told Reclaim Connecticut. “I was not anticipating that necessarily, because they tend to be a small part of the overall public school environment.”

DeNardis also noted Connecticut residents “were largely supportive of the Common Core,” despite the “misgivings we’ve heard in other states.”

WHAT IT MEANS FOR LEGISLATORS

Reclaim Connecticut asked DeNardis what legislators and people around the governor should take away from the poll.

“The majority expressed the desire to see greater funding for public schools coming from state government, I think that’s an important point to be taken,” DeNaris said.

“Education cost-sharing [ECS] grants were cut,” DeNardis added, a possible reference to a move from the governor last August. “And that impacts local communities, and throws their budget in disarray.”

WHAT IT MEANS FOR CANDIDATES

As for what candidates running for office in 2018 should take away from the poll results?

“I think that if the candidates want to familiarize themselves with the issues that are on residents’ minds, they could take a look at this poll on education,” DeNardis said.

The Sacred Heart professor indicated, though, that the next quarterly poll will be even more interesting for policymakers and candidates.

“We haven’t decided [what’s going to be in the poll] yet,” DeNardis said, “but we certainly will be asking more policy-related questions, and what Connecticut residents are most eager to see addressed.”