TALLAHASSEE — Florida voters are overwhelmingly against charging college tuition based on what people study, skeptical that degrees can be offered for $10,000 and strongly against setting different educational goals based on race, a new poll has found.
The poll by Quinnipiac University released Thursday also found that Florida voters may be starting to change their minds on same-sex marriage, and are less enthusiastic about marijuana legalization than people in other parts of the country.
The bulk of the poll dealt with educational issues that are at least suggested as being in play in Florida — while there currently isn't a strong move on gay marriage or marijuana at the moment.
The poll asked voters about a recent state Board of Education "strategic plan" proposal that drew criticism. The plan set out interim goals for achievement for students, but set lower goals for African-American students in an effort to acknowledge that many of them start farther behind their white counterparts. Critics jumped on the plan — which Gov. Rick Scott also criticized — saying that it sent the message that minorities couldn't achieve as well as whites. Florida voters said by a 71-7 percent margin that there shouldn't be differing goals for students.
Voters also opposed, by a 66–26 percent margin, charging lower tuition to college students who major in high-tech, math and science subjects in an effort to boost the workforce in those areas.
Voters also were against, by 73-16 percent, allowing some public universities to charge higher tuition than others. Those polled also are skeptical of Scott's challenge to the state's colleges to offer some four-year degrees for $10,000. Only 29 percent think it is very likely or somewhat likely to occur.
Two national issues that are less prominent in Florida were also polled.
Respondents opposed same-sex marriage by a 10-point margin back in May, but in the poll released Thursday they were nearly evenly divided, with 43 percent in favor of allowing gay marriage and 45 percent opposed. Voters under 29 years old overwhelmingly support the idea, by a 66-23 percent margin.
There's also less reefer madness in Florida than elsewhere, according to the poll. Florida voters oppose legalizing personal use of marijuana by a 52 percent to 42 percent margin — while nationally respondents say they support it by about the same margin.
Respondents also think state workers should have 401K style retirement plans only, and no defined-benefit plans, which are currently offered in addition to the defined-contribution plans. The poll found 53 percent of voters support offering state workers only a defined-contribution plan, which is similar to many plans in the private sector.
The Dec. 11-17 poll surveyed 1,261 registered Florida voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.