New CA Poll Finds Strong Support for “Invest in Teachers” Act

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Californians Strongly Support New Proposal to Attract and Retain Great Classroom Teachers

SACRAMENTO – By a more than 3 to 1 margin, a new statewide public opinion survey of California voters released today finds strong support for the Invest in Teachers Act, also known as Senate Bill 807, the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act of 2017.

Introduced by Senator Henry Stern (D-Agoura Hills) and Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), SB 807 is also co-authored by Assemblymember Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), and Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles). The legislation awaits its first hearing.

Sixty-four percent of California voters support the Act, which would address California’s statewide teacher shortage by providing tax credits to cover the training costs to get required teaching credentials, and eliminating all state income tax for teachers who stay in the classroom more than five years, with just 21% opposed.

After hearing arguments in favor of the proposal, as well as associated costs, support for the Act actually rises to 72% in support with just 21% opposed. This includes 48% who would “strongly” support the Act.

The Invest in Teachers Act earns significant support across all ethnic groups, with 76% of Latino voters, 75% of Asian-American voters, 69% of African-American voters, and 61% of white voters in support. In addition, the Act earns strong support across all political lines, with 72% of Democrats, 64% of Independents, and 50% of Republicans in support.

The survey found that 69% of California voters are aware of the growing shortage of teachers in California, and of those familiar with the shortage, 91% believe it is a serious or very serious problem.

“California voters are aware of the serious teacher shortage, and believe that we must act now since thousands of classrooms are already missing great teachers and it’s only going to get worse with Baby Boomer retirements if Sacramento does nothing,” said EdVoice President Bill Lucia. “We can honor our teachers, support them to become excellent and encourage them to stay in our classrooms through this bold investment that no other state has yet made. If California acts now by investing in our current and future teachers, we can reverse this immediate crisis that is disproportionately affecting students today in high-need schools and in high-poverty communities.”

California voters expressed strong support for specific aspects of the proposal, with 86% of Californians in favor of the tax credit for training for newer teachers and 25% strongly in favor. In addition, 69% of California voters are in favor of eliminating the state income tax on veteran teachers, with nearly half of all voters – 46%, strongly in favor of eliminating state income taxes on teachers. 

SB 807 would help school districts across the state – three-quarters of which report recruiting difficulties – with the challenge of recruiting, hiring and training new teachers. SB 807 will also incentivize veteran teachers to stay in classrooms while encouraging former and out-of-state teachers to return to the teaching profession in California.

SB 807 shines the light on the teacher shortage and brings the Legislature and Governor a solution to address the challenge school districts have of recruiting great teachers amidst the unsustainable turnover of nearly one-third of teachers leaving the profession every five years just as waves of Baby Boomer retirements arrive. 

A website sponsored by EdVoice in support of SB 807— —provides information on SB 807, including a petition encouraging public support for the legislation, and ongoing status of the legislation.

The public opinion survey of over 800 California voters was conducted February 16 – 22, 2017 for EdVoice by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3% at a 95% confidence level.

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Charles Sosnik, Learning Counsel Editor