Study Shows Arkansans Skeptical about Educational Reforms

April 28, 2004 -- Posted 6:30pm CDT

Jonesboro, AR -- Arkansans are skeptical about education reform. That's the finding of a study conducted by the Center for Social Research at Arkansas State University.

During the month of March, a little over 400 Arkansans were asked 4 questions in a telephone survey pertaining to education reform in the state.

When asked how strongly do you agree or disagree with the court's ruling that educational funding in Arkansas was unconstitutional, those undecided lead.

"What it tells us is that there are quite a few people that are not following this issue and it probably doesn't affect them," said ASU Professor Andrew Knight.

And that brings us to the next topic: school consolidation.

When asked how strongly do you oppose or support the government's decision to consolidate school districts with fewer than 350 students, the survey shows almost half of the public opposes this decision.

"I think it's just not an issue of dealing with quality of education, it's probably an issue of dealing with you lose a school, you lose control," said Knight.

When asked how strongly do you oppose or support the government's decision to raise the sales tax to 6% to help pay for educational reforms, the survey shows the public appears to be split, although there is much stronger opposition to raising taxes. But why?

"The thing is with the sales tax it's highly regressive and it has a greater impact on poor people than people who are highly affluent," said ASU Professor Patrick Stewart.

And so when asked about alternatives to taxation, including a state lottery, a slight majority --51% agreed that a lottery system should be instituted to pay for educational reforms.

"There is a good likelihood it will be implemented," said Stewart.

This particular survey has a margin of error of 4.8 percentage points, which means it's accurate 19 times out of 20.