Connecticut voters overwhelmingly support education reform proposals aimed at attracting and retaining the best classroom talent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

More than half (54%) of the 1,622 surveyed voters support  revisions to the state's teacher tenure system, one of just a number of measures included in SB 24, the education reform bill.

The legislation links teacher evaluation with student performance, an idea that also was supported by union members. The Q-Poll found 54% of union households with children under 18 favor tenure changes.

Reward good teachers

Two-thirds of voters (67%) told the Q-Poll outstanding teachers should be rewarded with merit pay. That number jumped two percentage points among union households with children.

And 62% of voters believe it should be easier to fire bad public school teachers, a proposal that drew favorable responses from 66% of union households with children.

Connecticut's public school teachers were viewed favorably by 66% of voters, which runs contrary to claims that education reform efforts were "demonizing" educators.

At the same time, the teachers unions--now retreating from earlier support of overhauling teacher evaluations--drew a negative response from voters, with 32% voicing an unfavorable opinion and 27% favorable..

Legislative leaders back reforms

Democrat and Republican legislative leaders also continued to voice their support of the education reform bill, which faces a key vote in the Education Committee this Friday.

Senate and House leaders spoke in favor of reform at a business conference in Stamford on Tuesday.

The education reform bill also is supported by a diverse coalition of groups and organizations, including parents, school principals and superintendents, boards of education, and the state's business community.