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Florida Survey Shows Growing Attention to and Anxiety About K-12

In the midst of a gubernatorial campaign where K-12 is a major issue, a survey of Florida residents reveals that they are placing increasing importance on the state's public schools—but they have mixed feelings about how those schools are performing.

Released on Sept. 23, the Sunshine State Survey conducted by the University of South Florida showed that 48 percent of the adult respondents rate their local public schools as "excellent" (13 percent) or "good," (35 percent) a decline from 54 percent when the question was asked in 2012, when 39 percent of respondents said their local schools were "good" and 15 percent deemed them "excellent."

The share of respondents who feel that education is the top issue in Florida doubled from 6 percent in 2012 to 12 percent this year. And in response to a new question this year about how well the state's educational system was preparing students for jobs in a global economy, only 9 percent think schools are "very successful" in doing so, while 55 percent think schools are "moderately successful" at doing so and 31 percent think schools are "not very successful." 

"There's no great feeling that Florida is turning out highly competitive students," said Susan MacManus, a professor at the University of South Florida and the director of the survey, in an interview.

Raising teacher pay, as in past years, remains the biggest priority the respondents have with respect to K-12—33 percent of respondents called it the top priority for education policy. 

As the campaign season has intensified, Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, has defended his education record by highlighting how he has increased financial support for education:

But Charlie Crist, a Democrat and former Florida governor, has stressed teaching jobs and class size in his attakcs on Scott:

You can look at the full results of the Sunshine State Survey on education below:

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