Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has long pushed for beginning the school year after Labor Day, arguing that it not only allows families to spend more time together during the summer but also helps boost small businesses.
A poll released Tuesday by Gonzales Research & Media Services may prove the Republican governor’s point. Roughly 56 percent of those surveyed support a post-Labor Day school opening, compared to 40 percent who say local school districts should decide when the school year begins.
“Voters between the ages of 35 and 54 are the only bloc in which a majority don’t think schools should be mandated to remain closed through the holiday that marks the end of summer,” according to the poll managed by Patrick Gonzales, who owns the firm in Arnold, Maryland.
The percentages among Black and white voters are virtually identical on both sides of the argument, with 55 percent supporting a post-Labor Day start and 41 percent wanting local school district leaders to decide.
The hot-button issue will be addressed during a hearing Thursday before the House Ways and Means Committee.
Last month, the Senate voted along party lines to allow the state’s 24 public school systems to decide when to start and end the academic year.
It’s based on a 2016 executive order from Hogan that forced schools to start after Labor Day and end by June 15.
Some Democrats, school officials and advocates criticized Hogan for assisting Worcester County along Ocean City, which served as the only jurisdiction three years ago in the state to start school after Labor Day.
The Gonzales poll also focused on another piece of legislation currently discussed that would allow motorists to put an “X” on their driver’s license to designate their gender as “unspecified.” More specifically, to allow individuals who “nonbinary,” who don’t identify as a male or female.
About 51 percent of those surveyed are opposed to allowing individuals to designate their gender as “unspecified” on their driver’s license.
Another 37 percent agreed with the Senate who approved Feb. 22 for driver’s licenses to continue with the male and female identifiers, but also add “X” for “unspecified or other.” It’s now under review in the House.
The poll shows 45 percent of Black voters support the measure, while 40 percent don’t.
Similar to a poll conducted last month by Goucher College, the Gonzales poll also found voters who overwhelmingly approve of the job Hogan is doing as governor (78 percent).
In addition, 60 percent of voters agree workers should be paid a minimum hourly wage of $15. The figure increases to 79 percent among Democrats, which also helped to approve the measure in the House on Friday.
The poll, which surveyed 817 registered voters, also assessed President Donald Trump’s job-performance rating, with 60 percent Marylanders disapproving his performance and 38 percent approving.
Approximately 77 percent of the voters in the D.C. region — including Prince George’s, Montgomery and Charles counties — disapprove of Trump’s job as president. In comparison, 64 percent of those polled in western Maryland approve of Trump’s performance.
The majority of Marylanders (67 percent) disapprove of Trump declaring a national emergency to build a wall along the Mexico border. Almost 30 percent agree with the president.
“If 67 percent of Marylanders reject Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to build a wall — are they disputing the necessity of a wall, saying it’s not a national emergency, rebuffing Trump, or all three? What about the 30 percent who approve? What is it they want?” Gonzales said in the document. “A poll cannot adequately resolve these questions … leaders need to. Our political culture has waned to a point where serious discussion about serious issues involving serious people appears as antiquated as sharing, being kind to one another, cleaning up after ourselves and everything else we once learned in kindergarten.”
The poll, conducted Feb. 22 through March 1, has a margin of error of plus/minus 3.5 percent.