The Public’s Attitudes Towards Public Schools

As educators its important to keep an eye on public attitudes toward our public schools.”The 39th Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools” by Lowell C. Rose and Alec M. Gallup; provides us with a treasure trove of data on public perceptions that, in general, leave me very optimistic about our future as an educational system, and as a nation.

When asked to grade the schools in the community 45% of the public gave the schools A’s & B’s. Fifty-three percent of those with children in public schools gave their community schools A’s and B’s.

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When the question focused even closer to home, “What grade would you give the school your oldest child attends?” the numbers climbed significantly, with 67% of parents giving the school an A or B.

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When asked to rate the public schools in the nation as a whole, only 16% assigned the schools A’s or B’s.

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While there are many ways to interpret this data, it seems that the more the public knows about it’s schools, the more they approve of them.

The public’s attitude toward the current emphasis on standardized tests is also encouraging. When asked if the increased emphasis on testing has helped, hurt, or made no difference in the performance of the local public school; 70% responded that it “hurt” or “made no difference”.

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Finally, when asked if the current emphasis on results is encouraging teachers to teach to the tests is a “good thing” or a “bad thing”, 79% of the public responded “a bad thing”.

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The fact that the more the public knows about the public schools, the higher they grade them; coupled with the growing dissatisfaction with the emphasis on high stakes testing is creating a national environment that is ready for change. Will our political leaders step up to the plate? What changes does the public support?

We’ll look at the data in my next post.

pete

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