Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, April 27, 2015

Siena Poll: New Yorkers Support Opt-Out Rights 50%-44%

From State of Politics:

Half of New York voters believe parents have the right to opt their children out of state-base standardized tests, a Siena College poll released on Monday found.


The poll found voters back allowing parents to opt their children out of state testing, 50 percent to 44 percent.

Across the political and geographic spectrum, too, found support for parents opting their children out of the tests, the poll found. The most recent round of state testing concluded last week.

The poll comes after thousands of students opting out of the math and English language arts round of state testing, which was based off the controversial Common Core education standards.

Cuomo's job approval remains underwater, 44%-55%.

More education findings:

Voters were mixed on how much student test scores should count toward a teacher’s review.
The poll found more than two-thirds of voters believe standardized tests should count for no more than a quarter of a teacher’s evaluation score.

Thirty percent of voters polled say tests shouldn’t count at all toward a teacher’s review, while 28 percent believe an exam should count for half or even more of a teacher’s evaluations.

Cuomo gets support for one part of his agenda:

Nevertheless, New York voters do support one aspect of Cuomo’s education policy definitively: 59 percent back making it easier for school districts to fire poor-performing teachers. 

A mixed poll overall.


  1. This poll is very bad news for the governor. Despite the immense power of his office to control the message the public hears, a ragtag group of parents has succeeded in convincing hundreds of thousands of others to tell the Endless Testing regime to go to hell.

    NYSUT/UFT should capitalize on this opening to scare the living hell out of Cuomo, Heavy Hearts Club members and the greedy Senate GOP conference with a well thought out PR blitz.

    1. 50%-44% isn't that big a margin. Six points, and as Tim points out down below, it certainly is divided by race, socio-economic status, and geographic location.

  2. If voters understood that test scores were affected by teachers at a rate of 1-14%, they might look at these things differently. The question of what exactly constitutes a "poor performing teacher" is a tough one, and it's pretty clear Cuomo's system is not the best way of identifying such teachers.

    1. It sure would be nice if the AFT/UFT or NYSUT took the time and money to explain these issues. Otherwise, it's easy for people to misunderstand or at least not understand the complexities of the issues. Although even then, when you're responding to a poll, the responses are often only as good as the polling questions. If the questions don't allow for complexities, then the responses won't have any in them.

  3. How do you figure Cuomo's job approval at 44-55?

    Excellent - 9%
    Good - 35%
    Fair - 35%
    Poor - 20%
    Don't Know / No Opinion - 1%

    Are you considering "fair" as a negative response? I don't think that is how the pros do it. At worst "fair" should be considered neutral.

    The leadership of the opt-out movement has made the elimination of state tests its primary goal, whether or not this represents the wishes of those who are opting out. This poll underscores how politically unreaslitic that goal is: if at least 70% of state residents want tests to be part of teacher evaluations, that is your rock-bottom baseline for the number who want the tests to be administered, period (and it is likely much higher than that).

    Overall the poll clarifies what we know about the opt-out movement. Its base is not broad, but rather concentrated in non-integrated districts that receive hardly any federal aid and comparatively little state aid. The stunning suburban rejection of higher state taxes to assist higher-needs districts -- 59% to 38% -- says a lot about what's happening here.

    1. Polling pros do indeed calculate "Excellent" and "Good" as positive and "Fair" and "Poor" as negative. Under that calculation, Cuomo is under water 44%-55%, as he has been in the Siena poll for a while now.

      But just in case you don't buy my take, here is Jimmy Vielkind at Cap NY today:

      "Cuomo's favorability and approval ratings are relatively unchanged from March. His job approval remains underwater at 44-55, and his favorability rating was 56-39."


    2. Yup, it's actually in Siena's press release (I always skip those and head straight for the cross tabs).

      That seems like a bizarre way to do it. It probably has a lot to do with why favorability ratings are far better predictors of election results than job approval ratings.

    3. That's okay. It is definitely a weird way to do it.

      Different polling outfits do it different ways.

      Some just ask if voters approve of the job a politician is doing or disapprove of it. That's obviously a lot more straightforward.

      But Siena goes with the Excellent/Good/Fair/Poor/Don't Know question.

      They're not the only ones. If I remember correctly, so does Monmouth in NJ. Marist in NY does the same.

      Quinnipiac, however, goes with the Approve/Disapprove question.

      That's why it's so hard to compare different polls, even when it's on the same question (like job approval.) Best to stick to just one poll and look at the trends.

  4. The poll is bad news in one clear way: the 59% who agree with making it easier to fire "bad teachers." The governor et. al. are going to jump all over that number, focus on it, highlight it, and use it to show how the Cuomo/Tisch/Reformer line is doing God's work. They will use that simple-ass, problematic poll question and the 59% number to begin to craft and hone their narrative out of the opt out corner they've been placed in over the last few weeks. Watch.

    They are going to be like stink on shit with that 59% number. We need to get in front of that.

    1. Siena poll done of upstate voters last week had same result. Cuomo and deformers didn't jump on that number. There's enough bad news in the poll that I think Cuomo would rather not point out anything from it. Because the retort is, "Hey, you've been under water in the Siena poll since last December!"

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