Children study in this 1940 photo of a one-room school near Morehead. The photo was shot by Marion Post Wolcott and is in the collection of the Library of Congress.
Education, jobs and health care remain top priorities for Kentucky voters heading into the 2019 gubernatorial election cycle, according to results from the second annual Education Poll of Kentucky released by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.
The Mason-Dixon Poll, conducted June 14 -26, found a strong majority of Kentuckians choosing those issues ahead of infrastructure and public safety. Asked to name one issue that elected officials most need to address, Kentuckians responded:
• Health care – 32 percent
• Jobs and the economy – 24 percent
• K-12 public education – 20 percent
• Infrastructure – 12 percent
• Public safety – 6 percent
The poll also showed that voters strongly recognize the need for continuing education after high school.
More than 70 percent said they believe some level of postsecondary education is necessary for a good-paying job (although only 3 percent chose postsecondary as a top priority for elected officials, relative to the other choices).
“Kentuckians want to move their state forward, and these poll results show that voters clearly see the importance of all levels of education – from early childhood through postsecondary – in building a stronger economy and future for our state,” Brigitte Blom Ramsey, the committee’s executive director, said in a press release. “Of particular note is the overwhelming majority of voters who see the connection between postsecondary education and jobs. That sends a strong message to our elected officials that preparing our young people for the jobs of today and to be the job creators of our future is imperative.”
Other poll results reinforce that message. Asked about the quality of education in the state, 80 percent of the respondents said quality had declined or stayed about the same over the past few years while only 14 percent said quality had improved.
Poll questions about early childhood care and education found a majority of Kentuckians to be in favor (74 percent) of increasing state funding to help more low-income, working parents have access to quality child-care and preschool.
These results highlight the continued need to elevate education for our earliest learners as a primary solution to the Commonwealth’s pressing issues, Ramsey said.
“Communities must come together to innovate and build better solutions to help students succeed,” she said. “This is certainly the case in early childhood education where partnerships are so critical to increasing access and quality.”