The tumultuous ouster of the Douglas County superintendent by conservative board members is just the latest example of how education is a political flashpoint ahead of the 2022 election.
State of play: A new poll shared exclusively with Axios Denver finds likely voters are animated about what students are taught in school, split on whether to require COVID-19 vaccines and upset with local school boards.
Why it matters: The education exasperation reflects a broader sour mood among voters about the direction of the nation.
- Republicans hope to tap into this sentiment to upset the Democratic status quo in Colorado’s next election.
By the numbers: A desire for parents to have more say in classrooms and curriculum is evident in the survey conducted by pollster Cygnal on behalf of ReadyColorado, a conservative education organization.
- A plurality at 40% say parents should have “a lot of say” about what children are taught in school, and 37% saying they should get “some say.” Only 22% want to leave it to the district and teachers.
- 78% support requiring school districts to post curriculum and teaching materials online for parents.
- A near majority at 48% hold unfavorable views of local school boards, while 33% regard them favorably. Unaffiliated voters have negative views, while school-aged parents are more positive.
The big picture: The survey found “ending the COVID-19 pandemic and returning to normal” is the leading issue among a select number of options offered by pollsters.
- The ongoing pandemic is certainly influencing the broader numbers. Just 24% believe the country is headed in the right direction, with 67% saying it’s going on the wrong track. Likewise, more people have an unfavorable view of President Biden.
- In Colorado, the numbers are split with 45% saying “right direction” and 46% saying “wrong track.” Gov. Jared Polis remains favorable among a majority of voters across political lines.
The intrigue: Mask and vaccine mandates in schools are polarizing issues.
- A narrow majority at 52% support mask mandates for students with 42% opposed. Most voters were either strongly in favor or against them.
- It’s more split on school COVID-19 vaccine requirements with 49% in support and 45% opposed.
The poll of likely 2022 voters, conducted via telephone, text message and email Jan. 12-13, has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.9 percentage points.