What's the best way to improve education in New Jersey?  A new Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll reveals voters think more parental involvement is the key.

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"When we asked what poses the biggest obstacle to learning in the Garden State, we find that 71 percent say a lack of parental involvement," said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind poll. "Similar numbers believe that requiring moms, dads and guardians to become more involved in their kids' education would offer the most in improving education in the state."

A series of questions were posed to survey respondents about the biggest obstacles to learning, and about what would provide the biggest improvement to public schools. About equal numbers believe poorly trained teachers (58 percent), inadequate funding (56 percent), and unsafe learning environments (54 percent) are major obstacles to learning in public schools.

Since Gov. Chris Christie took office, he's made education reform a top priority.

As for which reforms would most productive, giving parents vouchers to use in order to foster school choice (40 percent) comes in last behind parental involvement, more funding for education (53 percent), and reforming tenure for teachers (52 percent).

"Despite the push by many to give parents a greater choice in their children's education by giving them vouchers, the public isn't sold on the idea," said Jenkins. "This speaks to the difficulty of assuming that a single remedy will suffice to satisfy the concerns of parents."

Far more Democrats than Republicans believe inadequate funding is a problem, and that more money for education would produce major improvements to the quality of public schools in the state. Democrats are also significantly more likely to disapprove than approve of the governor's job performance.

Sixty-three percent of those who approve of Christie's job performance believe teachers are largely to blame, and 59 percent of those who endorse tenure reform as likely to improve public education considerably also give the governor a thumbs up.

"The governor has focused more on system failures than funding as the source of problems," explaind Jenkins. "These numbers suggest his leadership hasn't been enough to allay the concerns of those who focus more on funding than teaching deficiencies in addressing the state's educational issues."

When asked whether they've heard about the New Jersey Education Association, 78 percent say they have, with about equal numbers who say they have a favorable (30 percent) or unfavorable (27 percent) opinion of the organization.

The poll of 700 registered voters in New Jersey was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from Aug. 21 through Aug. 27, and has a margin of error of +/-3.7 percentage points.