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StudentsFirst Survey Shows CA Voters overwhelmingly support ending seniority-based teacher layoffs

More than 75 percent favor reforms to replace 'Last in, First out' policy; Support among Hispanic and African American Voters Tops 80 Percent

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A survey released today by StudentsFirst, a bipartisan grassroots education reform movement, reveals that three out of four Californians support ending the current seniority-based teacher layoff policy, known as "last-in, first out". The California Education Policy Survey, conducted May 18-23, 2012 by The Glover Park Group, surveyed more than 805 likely voters throughout California and has a margin of error of +/ - 3 .5 percent.

The survey, which included an oversampling of more than 250 Hispanic and 250 African American voters in California with a margin of error of +/ - 6 .2 percent, shows even stronger support among these constituencies to eliminate seniority-based layoffs. More than 84 percent of Hispanics and 83 percent of African Americans favor ending seniority-based layoffs, while only 13 percent and 12 percent, respectively, oppose such reforms.

"Californians clearly believe we need to do a better job of educating our children and they also overwhelmingly favor common sense reforms that ensure we have great teachers teaching our kids," said Michelle Rhee, founder and CEO of StudentsFirst. "All our kids deserve great teachers, and the bottom line is that we are losing too many good teachers in too many schools due to an outdated bureaucratic policy that rewards seniority over performance."

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Seventy percent of respondents believe that the quality of education in California is not as high as in other U.S. states;
  • Nearly half of voters say that the quality of education in their own school district is not as high compared to other districts in California;
  • Both Hispanic and African American voters are more likely to say that the quality in their district is not as high as in other California districts;
  • Likely voters believe hiring and keeping good quality teachers, being able to remove bad teachers from the classroom, and increased funding are the most important things Californians can do to improve the quality of education; and
  • Sixty percent of likely voters surveyed said they would be more likely to re-elect their state legislator if he or she supported changes to the seniority-based teacher layoff policy.

Last week, StudentsFirst issued a research brief entitled "Great Teachers for Every Child: A Matter of Social Justice," demonstrating the disproportionate impact of seniority-based teacher layoffs on low-income and minority communities.

"We know that having great teachers is the most important thing our schools can do to help kids learn, and there's absolutely no reason we should be laying off the teachers our kids need to succeed. Californians know that it's not just unwise, it's unfair," added Rhee. "This really is a matter of social justice, because every child deserves a great teacher."

The summary of the California Education Policy Survey is available on the StudentsFirst website at http://www.studentsfirst.org/CaliforniaEducationPolicySurvey2012. The research brief "Great Teachers for Every Child: A Matter of Social Justice," is also available at http://www.studentsfirst.org/CAResearchBrief.

About StudentsFirst:

Formed in December 2010 by former Washington, D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, StudentsFirst is a bipartisan grassroots movement of more than 1 million members working to transform America's schools so they work well for all kids. In its first year alone, StudentsFirst members successfully helped advocate for passage of more than 50 new, student-centered policies in half a dozen states, and our movement continues to grow every day.

Contact: mediarequests@studentsfirst.org