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OISE survey finds public satisfied with schools but less willing to increase spending

By Eileen Thomas

September 10, 2012

Public satisfaction with the school system as a whole, and with the job teachers are doing are at record highs, according to the findings of the 18th OISE Survey of Public Attitudes Toward Education, conducted by researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

“Historically, satisfaction with schools and spending preferences have often moved in opposite directions. In a political climate where satisfaction with schools is falling, support for more spending will be growing. The schools can fall victim to their own success,” said investigator Doug Hart.

Sixty-five percent are satisfied with schools and 70% are satisfied with teachers’ performance. Yet support for higher spending on schools is declining. In 2007, 76% favoured higher spending on school, falling to 68% in 2009 and to 56% in 2012.

The 2012 OISE Survey was administered by the Institute of Social Research at York University to a random sample of 1016 adult Ontario residents, between December 2011 and March 2012.


  • The public remains divided over which schools should receive public monies. 37% favour a single public system, 36% public and Catholic systems as now, and 24% favour extending funding to private schools. This gridlock has persisted for 25 years.
  • Involving parents more in their children’s education and hiring more special education teachers trump universal junior kindergarten and province-wide testing as ways of improving student success in elementary schools. Seventy-five percent think more parental involvement and more special education would have a lot of impact; only 40 percent see a similar potential in JK and testing programs.
  • Province-wide every-student testing is, however, supported at both the elementary (54%) and the secondary (70%) levels.
  • Only 40% think simply lengthening teacher education would have much impact on student achievement in elementary school. This rises to 63% if the amount of practice teaching is increased.
  • There is little public support for Africentric schools (23%) – or for girls’ only schools (27%).
  • Only 24% think black students have less chance of getting a postsecondary education than white students; 64% think Aboriginal students are disadvantage compared to whites.

Other topics covered in the 2012 Survey include grading the performance of local schools, taxation for education, use of private tutoring services, the role of EQAO, school accommodations for religious minorities, and the relevance of education to jobs. The full report including a description of the methodology is available here.