Siena Poll: Half Say New Teacher Evaluations Will Improve Public Education Quality

March 5, 2012 Updated Mar 5, 2012 at 4:07 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Siena Poll: Half Say New Teacher Evaluations Will Improve Public Education Quality

March 5, 2012 Updated Mar 5, 2012 at 4:07 PM EDT

Loudonville, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- Half of New Yorkers believe the recent agreement between the State Education Department and the teachers' unions to implement a new teacher evaluation system in every school district in New York will improve the quality of education, compared to 38 percent who say it will have no effect and three percent who volunteered that it will worsen education quality, according to a new Siena College Research Institute poll of registered voters released Monday.

By a 57-30 percent majority voters believe that the agreement is fair to teachers.

Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to have very strong favorability and job performance ratings, although both are down slightly this month. In a series of seven questions about specific aspects of Cuomo‟s job performance, he scores best with voters on improving the ethical standards of Albany and the fiscal condition of the state. On education, 22 percent of voters say his performance has improved the quality of education, while 27 percent say he had made it more of a problem, and a plurality, 45 percent, says his work on education has had no effect.

Support for a constitutional amendment to allow for non-Indian casinos in New York has slipped and voters are now evenly divided with 48 percent supporting and 49 percent opposing, down from 52-44 percent support last month. Support remains strong for both creating a new pension tier and building a new Queens convention center.

“A bare majority of voters thinks the new teacher evaluation system will improve the quality of education in New York, however, a sizable minority believes the new system will have no effect on the quality of education,” said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg. “Clearly voters do not see the issue of teacher evaluations as being the „be all and end all‟ to improving the quality of education for New York‟s public school students. Democrats and independents are more likely to think the evaluation system will improve education than are Republicans, while downstate suburban voters are more likely to think so than upstaters and New York City voters.”

“New Yorkers are in much more agreement that the new evaluation system will be fair to teachers. In fact, voters believe that to be true by a nearly two-to-one majority,” Greenberg said. “A majority of voters from every party and region think the new system will treat teachers fairly, as do even a majority of voters from union households, 52-39 percent. Interestingly, while the Governor was publicly seen as a leader in the fight for the new evaluation system, education is one key issue area where voters are not giving the Governor high performance grades.”

Gov’s Favorability & Job Performance Ratings Down a Little; Remain Incredibly High

Cuomo is viewed favorably by 69 percent of voters and unfavorably by 25 percent (down from 74-18 percent last month). Fifty-seven percent give him a positive job performance rating compared to 42 percent negative (down from last month‟s 61-37 percent).

“While Andrew Cuomo‟s numbers are down a little from last month, they remain impressively high as he enters his 15th month as Governor,” Greenberg said. “Cuomo continues to have favorability and job performance ratings that would be the envy of any politician.

“He continues to be viewed favorably by three-quarters of Democrats and more than two-thirds of independents, however, his favorability rating fell among Republicans over the last month from 71-23 percent to 57-33 percent. At least two-thirds of voters in every region of the state view him favorably,” Greenberg said.

“On virtually every issue Siena asked about – from ethics and infrastructure to various economic issues to having pride as a New Yorker – far more voters think the Governor‟s efforts have improved that issue in his year plus in office compared to those who say his efforts have made the issue more of a problem,” Greenberg said. “The lone exception is the quality of public education in New York. While a plurality of voters say Cuomo‟s efforts have had no effect on education quality, more voters – 27 percent – say his efforts have made education quality a bigger problem than the 22 percent who say his efforts have improved education quality in the state.

“When the seven questions are looked at together and yield a progress report, 48 percent of voters give the Governor good to great grades, 33 percent say average, and only 19 percent grade him poorly,” Greenberg said.

Support for Casino Amendment Erodes, with Voters Now Evenly Divided; Pension Reform & New Convention Center Still Strongly Supported

“A constitutional amendment to legalize non-Indian casinos in New York divides voters virtually down the middle. However, this is not an issue that divides voters by region, party or ideology. In fact, voters of every region, party and ideology are nearly evenly divided,” Greenberg said. “Gender and age are more predictive of voters‟ positions, with men more supportive than women and young voters more supportive than older voters.

“Support remains strong – 66-29 percent – for creating a new pension system to save government employers money and ask future government employees to contribute more toward their retirement. Pension reform has the strong support of voters from every party and region, and even has majority support among voters from union households,” Greenberg said. “The Governor‟s proposed new Queens convention center also continues to enjoy two-to-one support, including at least 60 percent of voters from every region and party.”

Majority Still Optimistic About Direction of the State; Economic Condition Seen as Better, Not Good

“The barometer of New Yorkers‟ optimism continues to be positive, as 50 percent say the state is on the right track and 40 percent say New York is headed in the wrong direction, down slightly from 52-36 percent last month,” Greenberg said. “Downstaters remain mildly optimistic about the direction of the state, while upstaters remain virtually evenly divided. This marks three consecutive months of optimism in the state‟s direction.

“While only 16 percent of voters describe the state‟s fiscal condition as excellent or good, that‟s the largest percentage since Siena began asking the question in the summer of 2008. Similarly, the 37 percent who describe the state‟s fiscal condition as poor is the smallest it has been in the last three and a half years,” Greenberg said.

Most Don’t Know the Comptroller & Attorney General and Both Have Negative Job Performance Ratings

“Both Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman remain a mystery to more than half the voters. DiNapoli has 25-23 percent favorability rating with 52 percent having no opinion, and Schneiderman has a 21-23 percent favorability rating with 55 percent having no opinion,” Greenberg said. “However, when asked how Schneiderman and DiNapoli are doing in their jobs, voters are far more negative. Schneiderman has a negative 30-43 percent job performance rating, and DiNapoli‟s has a negative 26-45 percent rating.”

“When it comes to the two houses of the Legislature, the Senate is viewed more favorably than the Assembly. The Senate has a 42-46 percent favorability rating, up from 39-49 percent in January, while the Assembly has a 37-49 percent favorability rating, down from 39-46 percent in January,” Greenberg said

Read the entire Siena news release HERE.