SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - Most Californians support dramatic changes set to take hold in public education, including funneling more money to schools with disadvantaged students and implementing rigorous national standards known as the common core curriculum, a new poll shows.
Nearly three-quarters of Californians also say they support free preschool for all 4-year-olds, a measure that has been proposed by Democrats in the legislature but met with skepticism by Governor Jerry Brown, the poll by the Public Policy Institute of California released Wednesday night showed.
"Public support is solidly behind the significant changes that are being made to school funding and classroom curricula this year," said PPIC President Mark Baldassare.
After hearing a brief description of the Common Core, criticized by some conservatives as a federal takeover of local public schools because the Obama administration is pushing for the change, 69 percent of California residents interviewed said they supported the standards, Baldassare said in a news release. The standards are set to go into effect with the 2014-2015 school year.
Californians support a new funding formula for schools built into this year's state budget by about the same amount - 71 percent, Baldassare said. The formula, pushed by Brown, allocates more money to schools where students are poor or do not speak English, but also allows local districts more control over how the money is spent, incorporating elements favored Republicans and school reformers as well as Democrats and the state's powerful teachers unions.
However, the poll also showed that 75 percent of Californians worry that teachers in the state are not adequately prepared to teach to the new common core standards. Most also are concerned that their local school districts may be unprepared to implement the new funding formula.
The telephone survey of 1,702 California adult residents was conducted from April 8 to 15, and includes a margin of error of 3.8 percent.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)