Recognizing the fundamental role education plays in the community, a recent Bryant Research poll found the majority of Knox County voters pointed to education as the number one factor in improving the local economy, ranking it even more highly than company recruitment, infrastructure, and reduced taxes.
“Ninety percent of the respondents characterized education as very important to improving the economy in Knox County,” said Jennifer Evans, vice president of public policy at the Knoxville Chamber. “However, just acknowledging its importance is not enough. The community must be prepared to take action and advocate for targeted investments to move our schools and our children forward.”
The poll, conducted in November 2012, focused primarily on gauging public opinion regarding the local school system and its impact on quality of life in Knox County.
“As we make the case for improvements in outcomes and resources for the schools, it is important for us to understand the public’s perception of public education,” said Evans. “We will use this information to identify trends over time but in the short term, it will help us focus our messaging efforts.”
The poll revealed nine out of ten voters support funding for increased access to technology, 80 percent believe additional funding should go towards increased academic support and career and technical education, 75 percent believed Knox County Schools should receive more funding, and 57 percent would support a property tax increase if it all went directly to public education.
Along with recognizing the importance of making technology available in the classroom, two out of three voters also pointed to teacher effectiveness and parental involvement as key factors in overall educational effectiveness. Further reinforcing the importance of teachers, 80 percent of those polled favored an increase in teacher pay and support.
While those polled were split on the overall effectiveness of Knox County Schools with 47.5 percent ranking them as excellent or good, 66 percent district-wide felt their neighborhood school was really effective, with some communities rating their neighborhood schools as high as 78 percent. However, 48 percent indicated they felt academic standards in Knox County Schools were too low.
“The school system’s chief objective is for all 56,000 students in Knox County to receive a high quality education that prepares them for their postsecondary education and career goals,” said Evans. “We’re beginning to see significant returns on the investments of the past few years, and it’s important that we continue to support these reforms for both the future of our children and the future of our community.”
The poll was administered through phone interviews to a sampling of 900 registered voters across the nine Knox County commission districts.
For more information on the survey, click on the following links: