The public verdict is in and overwhelming: The better the education people get, the stronger the U.S. economy will be, a poll shows. But don't count on folks to support higher taxes to improve schools.
Eighty-eight percent say a country's education system has a major effect on its economic health. Nearly as many — 79 percent — say the U.S. economy would improve if all Americans had at least a two-year college degree, according to an Associated Press-Stanford University poll.
Yet when it comes to financing public school improvements, people tilt slightly against raising taxes to do so, with 47 percent opposing and 42 percent in support. The findings underscore the tensions confronting federal and local officials across the country balancing the competing pressures of strengthening education while not overburdening taxpayers at a time of economic weakness and huge federal and state budget deficits.
The poll also found that:
Seventy-seven percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Democrats fault students heavily for low graduation rates. Republicans are also slightly likelier than Democrats to blame federal officials for the problem.
Fifty-seven percent of minorities blame parents for college graduation rates, while just 40 percent of whites do.
Minorities are more prone than whites to blame professors and teachers for college graduation rates, with 40 percent of minorities but just 29 percent of whites doing so.
Asked about the quality of schools, public four-year colleges received the highest marks, with 74 percent calling them excellent or good.
Other institutions got strong marks, too: Four-year private nonprofit colleges (71 percent), two-year public colleges (69 percent), private for-profit colleges (66 percent) and private for-profit trade schools (57 percent).