TEF Message Research: Key Takeaways and Core Recommendations
Research validates NEA TEF initiative. There is strong support for public education as a critical part of a civilized society. Voters and opinion leaders alike recognize that a strong public education system is: critical to the success of the individual vital for an informed citizenry, essential to a strong economy, and the best investment we can make in the long term. Voters and opinion leaders alike agree that public education does not have sufficient resources to execute on its promise and mission AND something should be done about it. Closing corporate loopholes and increasing taxes on the wealthy test favorably. NEA’s Midwest, Pacific and SE regions show an uptick in support for closing corporate loopholes and increasing taxes on the wealthy. Coalitions with African American, Latino, Female, Democrats and lower education level populations would be fruitful as support trends stronger in these communities across the nation. To achieve victories in the short term and increase funding for public education, NEA must take ownership of the narrative on two key points: equitable funding across school districts and states advocacy for everyone paying their fair share.
Basic Message Framework
A good education is the key to every child’s future and to our economic strength as a nation. Our system for funding it is broken and not every child gets the same quality of education or the same opportunities for achievement. In a recent survey voters and NEA members alike strongly support restructuring the way public education is funded and increasing funding to improve student achievement.
We are living in a time of global knowledge and in an increasingly competitive world economy focused on information. To keep up with rapid changes in technology and in our global economy, schools must be able to help students adapt in every aspect of their lives and to be productive citizens. If we want our children to compete in the 21st Century we must give them the quality education they need to be competitive in a global community. When we invest in public education, we grow our economy—creating more jobs, higher incomes and greater opportunity for all everyone.
We must adequately fund our education system to ensure that all young people have equal access to a quality public education. This means we must restructure our broken tax systemso we can invest in education and ensure student learning.
Creating a tax structure where everyone (including the wealthiest individuals and corporations) pays their fair share is the best way to ensure the future of our children and the future of our country’s economy for the long term.
Specific tangible options that tested well:
The first step is to restructure funding for education by:
—increasing taxes on the wealthiest individuals by 1%
Basic Message Strategy
What should we call it?•Strong Schools, Strong Communities, Strong Economy
How should we talk about it?•Equity is a core value that surfaces around both the need for change and around solutions.—Creating a system where all children have access to a sound basic education is critical
•Ask people and businesses to pay their FAIR SHARE— it’s a bell ringer!—Restructuring is more favorable than changing and requires explanation—In terms of the solution,eliminating loopholesresonates over eliminating incentives.
•In discussion forums and interviews, incentives are viewed positively as designed to create an outcome (primarily job creation). Loopholes are viewed as unintended benefits that smart people use to work the system.
•Raising taxes on the wealthy by 1% receives strong support in polls, but is less favored in discussion groups.—Don’t create villains,business and elected officials reject this approach.
Who should say it?•Teachers (first choice across research methodologies and most trusted)•Parents (second choice)•NEA (members only, second place to other teachers)