Results from the Atlantic Media/Pearson Opportunity Poll show that while Americans believe that education is the path to better opportunities, the country is divided on how far into educational careers government should provide support. Seventy-six percent of those polled are for universal PreK starting at age four in order to improve school readiness. However, although two-thirds of those polled believe having more Americans with postsecondary degrees would boost the economy, less than 50% support measures that increase government assistance in attaining the degree. A 51% majority agreed, “The government should provide free public college education because a post-secondary degree is now so essential to success,” but 44 percent said, “it is too expensive for the government to guarantee free public college education and families and students should contribute.”
- Support for universal Prek crossed political lines: 86% of Democrats, 73% of independents, and 65% of Republicans.
- Regarding a free college education, 70% of Democrats supported it compared to 51% of Independents and 22% of Republicans polled.
- Backing of government-funded college also varied according to generation (64% Millennial Generation, 52% Generation X, and 47% of Baby Boomers), and ethnicity (72% African American, 64% Hispanic, 48% Asian, 44% white).
- Forty percent believe “spending more money on education, including K through 12 schools and public colleges and universities” would do the most to improve the local economy.
- However, 41% of African Americans believe children of color in their neighborhood have access to the same opportunities as white children.
A preliminary report from the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent said that African Americans are still discriminated against, including access to quality schools. In the Atlantic/Pearson poll, the findings are similar: 41% of African Americans think the schooling children in their neighborhood receive is adequately preparing them for college work, compared with about half of whites, 61% of Hispanics, and 63 percent of Asians.
Read more from The Atlantic:
- “What Do Americans Think About Access to Education?” by Ronald Browstein (March 9, 2016)
- “How Perceptions About Opportunity Vary by Race” by Emily Durey (March 10, 2016)