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

Friday, August 22, 2014

Americans again rate local schools higher than schools of the nation

Groundhog Day: Americans Again Rate Local Schools Higher than Schools of the Nation
Stephen Krashen

As is the case every year, the PDK/Gallup poll (September 2014) found that people rate their local schools much more positively than they do schools in the US in general.  

The differences, as usual, were striking: Fifty percent of respondents said they would give the public schools in their neighborhood a grade or A or B, but only 17% would give public schools in the nation A or B.  When asked about the school their oldest child attends, 67% said they would give the school at A or B, suggesting that those who have more information about local schools rate them more highly.

Gerald Bracey (2009) gave a logical explanation for this phenomenon: "Americans never hear anything positive about the nation's schools," noting that "negative information flows almost daily from media, politicians, and ideologues."  The finding that American students score at the top of the world on international tests when poverty is statistically controlled (e.g. Carnoy and Rothstein, 2013) is never mentioned.

Education Secretary Duncan (also in 2009) gave his opinion of why people think local schools are better than schools in general: "Too many people don't understand how bad their own schools are." Duncan said that the public needs to be "woken up" to see that their own children are being short-changed. In other words, parents are not to be trusted on evaluating the quality of their own child's education, despite the fact that they are daily witnesses to the results of their child's schooling.

Bushaw, J. and Calderon, V. 2014. Try it again, Uncle Sam: The 46th Annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. Phi Delta Kappan, 96(1): 8-20.
Bracey, G. 2009. Experience outweighs rhetoric. Phi Delta Kappen 91(1): 11
Carnoy, M and Rothstein, R. 2013, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute. 2012. http://www.epi.org/).
Duncan, A. 2009. Quality education is our moon shot. Phi Delta Kappan 91(1), 24–9.
Krashen, S. and Ohler, J. 2009. The Bad Schools Syndrome. http://substancenews.net/articles.php?page=940&section=Article

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