More than 400 Tennesseans participated in an online survey conducted by WGU Tennessee that coincided with the first statewide gubernatorial forum, which focused solely on education.
Tennesseans — adult learners and traditional students alike — are eager to learn more about the gubernatorial candidates’ policy ideas for education, and we wanted to find out what potential voters think is important when it comes to higher education.
When asked, “Which higher education issue will be the most important for the next governor’s administration to address?” 69 percent chose “college affordability and student debt reduction” as their top answer.
Also selected as important issues for the next governor were “building a better-educated workforce” at 16 percent and “increasing access to higher education for rural Tennesseans” at 9 percent. Respondents who listed “other” — almost 5 percent — were asked to specify an issue. The most common response by those participants focused on increasing and improving technical training opportunities for Tennesseans.
The survey also asked, “Which of the following K-12 education issues will be most important for the next governor's administration to address in order to better prepare students for college?” Respondents chose the following issues: “increased and/or improved STEM programs at 44 percent, “increased early-intervention programs for at-risk students” at 37 percent, and “more charter school options” at 5 percent. Among those choosing “other” — 13 percent — concerns around standardized testing were cited most frequently.
When asked, “What question do you most want the gubernatorial candidates to answer at the forum on education?” the replies varied, but respondents largely want to know where the candidates stand on three issues: positions on K-12 school choice (i.e., vouchers and charter schools), ideas for improving literacy and how to develop better testing and evaluations for students and teachers
Based on the survey results of 408 Tennesseans, it’s clear that the majority think it’s important for the next administration to keep focusing on policies aimed at affordability and responsible borrowing in order to meet our educational and workforce development goals.
WGU Tennessee was proud to serve as a sponsor of the forum, which can be viewed in its entirety here: