Pamplin Media Group – Poll: School boards have little support from Oregon voters

Taxpayers value early learning and support services, but feel unrepresented by education officials, Oregon Values ​​& Beliefs Center latest survey finds

Oregonians broadly support funding for educational programs, but respondents to recent statewide surveys generally lacked support for their local school boards.PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici interacts with children at a Head Start preschool in Portland.  Polls show that Oregonians overwhelmingly support early learning programs and family support services, but less than 40 percent feel their local school board represents them and their interests.

Only 36% of respondents said they felt their school board represented their values ​​and beliefs. Another 38% said they don’t feel represented by their local school board and 26% said they weren’t sure.

The latest survey from the Oregon Values ​​& Beliefs Center, which polled 1,563 Oregon residents ages 18 and older, found Democrats are more likely than Republicans to voice support for the school board of their region. Respondents with higher income—earning $100,000 or more per year—and those with more education are more likely to feel represented by their school board than those with less income and education.COURTESY PHOTO - Students at Oregon City High School walked out of class Feb. 7 to protest the administration's decision to release a video of a student at an assembly admitting to assaulting another student.

The 26% of respondents who said they were “unsure” about their local school board indicated a lack of familiarity with the work and decisions of elected education officials, but this is not the case everywhere.

Last year saw a public rift between school management and Newberg residents, where a school board voted to ban staff from displaying political or controversial flags, clothing and images, such as Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ pride flags, on district property. A few months after this vote, the school board fired its superintendent without cause.

The fallout from the board’s controversial decisions led to an unsuccessful but tight recall effort against Newberg School Board members Dave Brown and Brian Shannon in January. The election revealed a strong public divide over whether the school board represented its community, with 52% of voters opposing the recall and 48% voting in favour.

Many respondents cite political influences in their disapproval of their local school board.

“School boards have become too political,” noted a Yamhill County Republican. “They should focus on education, not social justice and political indoctrination.”PMG PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Protesters rally against a Newberg School District ban on Pride flags and BLM signage in August.  The school board made national news for its controversial decision.

In Clackamas County, Cris Waller said her local school board was “taken over by the Conservatives” in the last election.

“I’ve heard people I know say how disheartening it is to be a school board because of relentless pressure from right-wing groups,” Waller said when contacted by Pamplin Media Group. She said the same groups that took over school board meetings took over the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners.

In Washington County, a woman said voters in her community “succeeded in pushing the crazy, fringe characters away” from the school board. “However, they knock on the door to enter with their white pride and fanatical Christian fervor.”

Kwee Heong Tan, also of Washington County, said his local school board “cares about administrative and non-educational areas like artificial turf, while textbooks are old and emphasis on AP subjects is reduced due to lack of teachers”.

Taxpayers value support services

While Oregonians are split on whether they are served and represented by local school leadership, the survey shows broad support (70% or more) for an array of taxpayer-funded family support services like the tutoring, sports, after-school clubs, child health care and mental health services for young people.

Even services that received the least support, such as culturally inclusive learning materials and requiring cultural awareness and implicit bias training for school staff, showed that 70% of respondents felt they were useful.

When it comes to supporting child care and early learning programs, especially for children with special needs or disabilities, more than half (56%) of Oregonians say It is “very important” to provide child care and learning programs. More than 86% of respondents said it was somewhat or very important to fund programs for children with special needs.

Similarly, 79% said it was somewhat or very important to make child care more affordable for families through additional government funding.

“Women are more likely than men to express strong support for the use of taxpayer funds to strengthen early learning and childhood programs and services,” OVBC noted in its summary of findings from the survey. ‘investigation. “Low-income residents are also more supportive.”

Still, residents are mixed on how to pay for these services. In Multnomah County, which enacted new tax measures in 2020, and Portland in particular, which now has the highest combined state and local income tax rate in the nation, people with high income are feeling the pressure.

“I currently pay over $500 a month in property taxes. I get just over $1,000 from the SS. I’m raising my grandchildren. Do the math,” said a Multnomah County woman, who identifies as a Democrat of “somewhat liberal” social status. ideology, told investigators. “I cringe at the thought of all these well-meaning projects coming forward, knowing full well it’s going to be the property taxes that pay. Then every 20-30 year old will vote for everything and complain about the high rent.”

More than a penny for your thoughts

The Oregon Center for Values ​​and Beliefs is committed to conducting public opinion research at the highest level. To help achieve this, the nonprofit assembles a large research panel of Oregonians to ensure that all voices are represented in public policy discussions in a valid and statistically reliable way.

Selected panelists earn points for their participation, which can be redeemed for cash or donated to charity. To learn more, Click here.

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