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Friday, June 02, 2006

Education Leading Concern for Bay Area Voters

The Tampa Tribune commissioned a poll from Mason-Dixon Polling & Research to determine what issues were on people's minds in Tampa Bay - and found one overwhelming answer: education.

Only 17 percent of the 625 voters interviewed in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, and Polk counties thought that Florida's schools were improving. 35 percent of all participants - and 46 percent of women - thought they were getting worse. These are disturbing numbers for incumbents facing strong challenges who want to run on the record of recent years.

The majority of voters believe that increasing teacher pay - which lags $6,000 behind the national average, would go a long way towards improving the situation. 78 percent think higher pay for teachers will improve education, including 83 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of independents.

"Almost half our teachers are leaving after five years," said gubernatorial candidate and Tampa Congressman Jim Davis. "I think our first priority has to be raise teacher salaries."

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