A new school year is here for a new schools chancellor. As New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott faces his first full school year in his post, what do New York City residents think of the job he has done since his appointment in April? A notable proportion of New Yorkers have yet to form an opinion.
According to this NY1-Marist Poll, 28% believe Walcott is doing either an excellent or good job as chancellor. Included here are just 2% who say he is doing an excellent job and 26% who report he is doing a good one. About one-third — 33% — gives Walcott fair marks while 13% report he is performing poorly. Slightly more than one in four — 26% — has either never heard of Walcott or are unsure how to rate him. Households with a child in the city’s public schools have similar impressions of the schools chancellor.
“This will be a year when New Yorkers become much more familiar with Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “The big question is whether he can impact favorably upon the mayor’s education policy.”
In the boroughs, 34% of residents in the Bronx, 30% of those in Manhattan, 29% of adults living in Brooklyn, and 25% of those in Queens and Staten Island rate Walcott’s job performance as excellent or good.
What about the schools themselves? Only 43% of adults in New York City give the public schools in their community above average grades. This includes 10% who rate them as excellent and 33% who say they are good. 28% report the schools in their area are fair while 19% think they are performing poorly. One in ten — 10% — is unsure.
When NY1-Marist last asked this question in April, 38% thought the school in their community was either excellent or good. 34% reported they were average while 20% rated them as poor. Eight percent, at the time, were unsure.
- Nearly half of those in Queens and Staten Island — 48% — praise the city’s public schools. 42% shared this view in April.
- More than four in ten Manhattan residents — 42% — rate the public schools in their area as excellent or good compared with 37% in NY1-Marist’s previous survey.
- Almost four in ten in the Bronx — 39% — currently give the schools high marks while 34% did so in April.
- In Brooklyn, 39% approve of the public schools in their community. This compares with 35% who thought the same in April.
Teachers Top Spending Priorities
Budgetary constraints are an issue for New York City’s public schools. 38% of adults in the Big Apple believe providing a sufficient number of qualified teachers should be the highest spending priority. 23% want money allocated to expanding classroom resources while nearly one in five — 19% — thinks reducing class size should top the list of expenditures. One in ten — 10% — views the need for increased school safety and security as paramount while only 4% think school infrastructure should top the list. Six percent are unsure.
- Spending on qualified teachers tops the priority list for residents living in Manhattan — 43% — those in Queens and Staten Island — 42% — and in Brooklyn — 34%.
- In the Bronx, there is less of a consensus. In fact, 30% in this borough place expanding classroom resources as the most important expenditure while 28% believe providing qualified teachers is.
- A plurality of residents without children — 40% — thinks the city should spend money on making sure there are enough qualified teachers. However, there is less of a consensus among those with children in their households. Here, about one-third — 33% — share this view. 23% place the most importance on reducing class size while 22% think providing more resources is the key.
- Looking at households with a child in the public schools, 32% say money should be put toward qualified teachers. 25% think reducing class size is the most important while 21% believe providing more resources is the top priority.
Charter Schools Still Popular, But Drop in Approval
Nearly six in ten adults in New York City — 58% — think charter schools are a good thing because they provide families with more of a choice. 27%, however, say they are a bad thing because they take resources away from public schools. 15% are unsure.
Although 58% of New Yorkers currently believe charter schools are a benefit, fewer residents share this view compared with Marist’s September 2010 survey. At that time, about two-thirds of adults citywide — 66% — were for charter schools while 24% were against them. One in ten — 10% — was unsure.
There are age differences. 65% of adults younger than 45 years old back charter schools while 52% of those 45 and older agree.
Lack of Respect for Public School Teachers
66% of adults citywide think teachers today receive less respect now compared with when they were in school. 18% believe they have the same amount of respect while 7% say they get more respect. Only 9% are unsure.
In NY1-Marist’s April survey, similar proportions of New York City residents had these views. At that time, 65% thought teachers are not given as much respect, 20% said they receive the same amount of respect while 7% reported they are respected even more. Eight percent, at that time, were unsure.