"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, September 17, 2007

Public Attitudes Toward the Public Schools

Michael Martin's summary of the PDK/Gallup Poll:

* 67% of parents graded their local school an "A" or "B" in 2007 compared to 64% in 2006.
* 60% agreed "most public school students leave high school adequately prepared for college."
* The "biggest problem" facing schools is lack of funding.
* 40% had a negative view of NCLB, while only 31% had a favorable view
* Those claiming no opinion on NCLB declined from 69% in 2003 to 29% in 2007 with 27 of that 40 point change becoming negative.
* 48% are concerned that NCLB is reducing the teaching of "science, health, social studies, and the arts."
* only 27% supported "finding an alternative to the existing public school system."
* only 39% supported vouchers for private schools.
* two-thirds of the public and 70% of public school parents opposed having "private profit-making corporations" run local schools.
* 59% of the public and 57% of public school parents opposed having local mayors take over schools.
* 52% of parents felt "there is too much emphasis on achievement testing" in 2007 compared with only 32% in 2002, and 16 of that 20 point change previously felt it was "about right."
* 62% said that the current emphasis on standardized tests was a "bad thing" because it encouraged teachers to teach to the tests. Only 39% of parents were concerned about this in 2003.
* 82% prefer a measure of student improvement, rather than whether students pass a test, as the best way to measure school performance.
* 73% said they were "not willing" to have their child attend a virtual high school over the internet.
* 85% said it was important for children to learn a foreign language (but not necessarily in school).
* 79% think that English Language Learners should not have their scores counted in measuring school performance until after they pass an English proficiency test.
* 78% of public school parents said that Special Education students should not be required to meet the same academic standards as other students.

Michael T. Martin
Research Analyst
Arizona School Boards Association

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