Statewide Survey Also Casts Doubt on Kirwan Commission Recommendations

ROCKVILLE, MD (April 19, 2018) — Improving school safety and career training are the top education spending priority for both republicans and democrats in Maryland. That is according to a new statewide survey of voter perceptions on major education issues like teacher pay and pre-K expansion. Commissioned by the Maryland Public Policy Institute, the survey results also cast doubt on recommendations proposed by the state’s Kirwan Commission on Innovation & Excellence in Education heading into the 2018 election cycle.

The survey, conducted by Burton Research & Strategies, included 600 likely voters in Maryland between March 4-8 and 10-11, 2018 and has a margin of error of ±4.0 percent. Read the full poll memo at

Major Survey Findings:

School Safety is First Choice for New Education Spending:

In the wake of school shootings nationwide, 25 percent of Marylanders think making schools safer should be the top priority for new education spending, 22 percent prefer more career and technical training, 17 percent say providing healthcare and social services at schools in low income areas, and 16 percent prefer raising teacher salaries.

Voters Say Teach Career Skills, Not Character:

More than two-thirds of voters (67 percent) say it’s more important for schools to give kids skills and knowledge than to develop character in public schools. Given that Twenty-two percent also say providing more career and technical training is their top priority for new spending (second only to school safety), voters clearly support a “back to basics” approach to public education.

Voters Aren’t Gambling on Politicians’ Keeping Promise:

Eighty-five percent of Maryland voters do not believe their elected officials when they say state gambling revenue will be dedicated entirely to public education. The Maryland General Assembly recently passed a ballot question that they say would, if adopted by voters in November, prohibit spending gambling on anything other than education.

Marylanders Want Higher Teacher Pay, But Not Bigger Budgets:

Thirty-eight percent of Marylanders say increasing teacher pay is their first or second choice for improving education in Maryland, while 28 percent say reducing class sizes. Importantly, though, they do not support more spending on education. 72 percent of Marylanders believe policymakers should focus on reallocating resources more efficiently and effectively, instead of increasing the education budget. That belief is shared among democrats (66 percent), independents (80 percent) and republicans (81 percent.)

Businesses Should Have More Input on Education Policy:

62 percent of Marylanders say that recommendations from the so-called Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education should not be considered valid without more input from the business community. The 25-member commission tasked with developing K-12 education reforms currently has only one representative from the business community.

Don’t Expand Pre-K at the Expense of Other Services:

Marylanders are open to expanding pre-K services, but decisively oppose expansion if it is paid for by cutting other government services or through tax increases.Seventy-seven percent of Marylanders are less likely to support expanding pre-K if it means reducing children’s health insurance funding, reducing public safety funding (70 percent), cutting funding for roads and transportation (70 percent), or raising taxes such as income and property taxes (59 percent). The Kirwan Commission has advocated for pre-K expansion but has provided no guidance for how to pay for it.

“The poll demonstrates that Marylanders believe in providing a great education, but not with a blank check,” said Christopher B. Summers, president of the Institute. “We encourage policymakers to consider the sentiments expressed in this poll any time they are faced with a new idea to expand government’s presence in the classroom.”

A detailed memo for the Maryland Statewide Education Poll can be found at

About the Maryland Public Policy Institute: Founded in 2001, the Maryland Public Policy Institute is a nonpartisan public policy research and education organization that focuses on state policy issues. The Institute’s mission is to formulate and promote public policies at all levels of government based on principles of free enterprise, limited government, and civil society.  Learn more at