Culture Wars in the Classroom: Texas Voters Call for a Ceasefire


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A recent survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund finds that Texans believe that teachers and scholars should set curriculum standards in public schools. They dislike the notion that a small group of politicians can project their own personal values and beliefs onto the public school curriculum over the recommendations of teachers and scholars. Moreover, voters oppose the curriculum changes made by the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) once they have heard a description of the process.

Texas Freedom Network Education Fund Toplines

Texas Freedom Network Education Fund Report

Texas Freedom Network Education Fund Press Release

Key Findings

Texas voters believe the public school curriculum should be set by teachers and scholars, not politicians. Nearly three-quarters of Texas voters say that teachers and academic scholars should be responsible for writing curriculum standards and textbook requirements for Texas’ public schools. Only 19 percent prefer that an elected state board make curriculum decisions. 

Because they are not following this issue closely, a plurality of voters are undecided about whether they support or oppose the new curriculum standards. There is great fluidity in this debate, depending on how closely voters are following the issue. 

Voters who are closely following the curriculum process are more likely to oppose the standards than those following the proceedings less closely or not at all. Opposition is driven more by resistance to the politicization of education than by an objection to religious influence in public schools. 

Despite the fact that a majority of Texas voters believe that separation of church and state is a key principle of the Constitution, nearly half of voters think religion should play a larger role in schools. In fact, the leading reason for supporting the SBOE efforts is that “religion should be part of school.” 

After hearing a description of the curriculum adoption process, a strong majority of Texans oppose the curriculum changes. Fifty-seven percent of voters oppose the SBOE’s actions after hearing information about the changes being made to the initial recommendations, while just 29 percent support the revisions. Opponents include some “unlikely bedfellows,” such as moderate Republicans, college-educated men, Independent women, cobbled together with liberals, Democrats, and more secular voters. 

Opposition is focused on a politicized process that leaves out core concepts and puts a quality education for Texas students at risk. Voters strongly object to the SBOE making the curriculum “too political” and trying to promote “their own political agenda.” They believe that teachers and scholars—not politicians—should be responsible for setting school curricula, and they express concern about the risk that the new curriculum approved by the state board could pose to high-quality education and academic/career readiness. 

Methodology

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner designed and administered a representative statewide survey of 601 likely voters (2010 general election), and supplemented the base sample with a web oversample of 219 young likely voters (ages 18-29; total N=292) and a phone oversample of 152 suburban/exurban likely voters (total N=241). The margin of sampling error for the total sample is +/- 4.0 percentage points. The survey was conducted May 4 - 12, 2010.

For press inquiries, please contact Dan Quinn with the Texas Freedom Network: 512.322.0545 or Greenberg Quinlan Rosner: 202.478.8300


Source: Anna Greenberg, Melissa Egelsky, and Jessica Keating

Client: Texas Freedom Network Education Fund