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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Poll Results: No Confidence in Klein, End Mayoral Control

The latest survey released by the highly respected Quinnipiac University Polling Institute had good news for Mayor Mike Bloomberg and bad news for Chancellor Joel Klein.

The poll showed that 73% of New York City voters approve of Mayor Bloomberg. And it also showed only 33% approve of Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, while 43% of voters disapprove of the job he is doing.

In a survey released on March 14, the Mayor's popularity was near his all-time high rating of 75% in January 2007. Voters overwhelmingly disapproved of the "Mayor's handling of the school bus schedule change" (by 62-12%). But apparently that fiasco was just a minor blip in the Mayor's continuing popularity among New York City voters.

In the survey released by Quinnipiac today, there was considerable information about how voters view the Mayor's and Chancellor Klein's stewardship of the public schools.

By a 58-31% margin, voters want the return of an independent board of education to control the schools. When voters were asked whether mayoral control was successful, 39% think it has. But 58% want to remove control from the mayor's hands and turn it back to an independent board of education.

Only 19% of voters citywide are satisfied with the public schools; 64% are dissatisfied, including 63% of public school parents and 75% of black voters.

Chancellor Klein gets a resounding vote of no-confidence in this survey. Only 33% of voters approve of the job he is doing. As noted above, 43% disapprove. His disapproval ratings are highest among black voters (50%), in the Bronx (50%), in Brooklyn (48%), and among women voters (48%). The strongest disapproval rating--52%--is registered by parents of public school students. Chancellor Klein's highest popularity was recorded in February 2003 at 46%; his lowest was recorded in March 2007 at 33%.

When voters are asked how they feel about Mayor Bloomberg's handling of the public schools, his ratings are higher than Chancellor Klein's. 50% approve (among public school parents, the number drops to 47%). The mayor gets the highest approval (55%) from Republicans, voters in Queens (55%), and men (56%). He gets the highest disapproval rating (50%) from public school parents.

On the subject of who should control the schools, only 31% say that it should be the mayor. 58% say that it should be an independent Board of Education. The groups that most strongly support an independent Board of Education are Blacks (66%), Democrats (64%), women (64%), voters in the Bronx (62%), and public school parents (61%).

When asked who should control individual public schools--the principal, the neighborhood school board, or officials from the city department of education--voters overwhelmingly rejected the NYC Department of Education. 38% preferred a local board; 33% say the principal; and only 18% choose the NYC Department of Education. While voting groups were divided in their choice between the principal and a local school board, there was resounding agreement that the one group that should NOT control individual schools is Department of Education officials.

Let's hope that Mayor Bloomberg reads the poll results. Nearly five years into mayoral control, the public is not satisfied with the public schools. They don't trust the Department of Education that he created. They want an independent Board of Education. Attention must be paid.

Diane Ravitch


Leonie Haimson said...

Yes, Klein's popularity is actually lower than George Bush's -- 33% compared to Bush's 35%.

What's also interesting is how uniform the disapproval is among Republicans, Independents, Democrats, white, blacks and Hispanics -- and unusual unanimity of negative opinion within this highly diverse city.

In each of these groups, his approval rating ranges from 33% - 35%.

Daniel Millstone said...

Why do you think it is that people hold Mr. Klein to blame for the mismanagement and bad leadership of our schools, but don't hold Mr. Bloomberg accountable?

Diane Ravitch said...

Daniel Millstone asks an interesting question: Why does the public hold Mr. Klein accountable for the condition of the public schools, but not Mayor Bloomberg. I am puzzled, too. After all, mayoral control was supposed to mean, "hold the mayor accountable," but so far the public is not doing this. Someone suggested to me that Mr. Bloomberg is teflon and Mr. Klein is a magnet. Or it may be that in time, if matters continue to spiral out of control, the public will begin to hold the mayor accountable. What is your guess?

Patrick Sullivan said...

I would say it's just that the general public doesn't yet understand how the Mayor is failing. For public school parents, 50% disapprove of his handling of the schools. In the business world, if 50% of your customers don't like your service, you don't stay in business very long. The Mayor has an excellent PR machine and the publishers of the major media outlets are sympathetic, if not good friends. But more and more the truth comes out. As Diane and others write the history of the schools in the Bloomberg era, the perception will align with reality.