Education isn’t just job training

Only one in five of parents, teachers and other adults say that preparing students for work should be the main goal of schools, according to the 2019 PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

Will someone please tell our elected officials?

Continue reading

PDK poll finds support for teacher strikes

Four in five public-school parents would support local teachers if they went on strike for higher pay, according to results of this year’s PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes toward the Public Schools.

Seventy-three percent of the overall public would back a strike by local teachers, the poll found. Even among Republicans, support for a teachers’ strike was 60 percent.

The poll, released this week by Phi Delta Kappa, has tracked public opinion on schools and teachers since 1969. This year’s poll surveyed a random sample of over 1,000 adults in May 2018.

The support for teacher strikes is remarkable at a time when union membership is shriveling, strikes are rare and government officials from state legislators to the Supreme Court have declared war on organized labor. But walkouts last spring by teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky received a lot of attention, and the poll suggest the public was sympathetic.

Continue reading

PDK poll offers answers but leaves questions

Parents and the public favor racially and socioeconomically diverse schools, and they don’t put much stock in using standardized tests to measure school quality. At least that’s what they told the pollsters who conducted the 49th annual Phi Delta Kappa Poll of the Public’s Attitudes toward the Public Schools.

But if that’s the case, why do so many affluent parents get up in arms over proposals to desegregate their neighborhood schools. Why do we accept the idea that property values are higher where schools are whiter and test scores are better?

Are the poll respondents just giving answers that make them sound reasonable? Or do a majority really embrace values of tolerance and diversity. As always, the poll provides a lot of information but leaves plenty of questions for us to debate.

Results of the PDK poll were released this week. On diversity, it found that 70 percent of parents say they would prefer for their child to attend a racially diverse school, and 61 percent prefer an economically mixed school. A majority of the public said racial and economic diversity is good for schools.

Continue reading

PDK Poll is annual reality check

Count on the annual Phi Delta Kappa Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools to provide a reality check for those of us who spend our lives caught up in education policy debates.

It suggests that many people aren’t consumed with testing, school choice, accountability and the other usual themes of policy arguments. They’re more interested in down-to-earth stuff, like what schools are teaching, how they’re funded and how they treat families.

For example, fewer than half the respondents to the 48th annual PDK Poll, released this week, think schools should focus primarily on academic skills – when nearly all the reform proposals of recent years assume that boosting academics is Goal No. 1. Some 25 percent said schools should emphasize preparing students for jobs, and 26 percent said the priority should be producing good citizens.

And when respondents were asked how best to improve schools, the one approach with clear support was boosting career and technical education. There’s not much support for bolstering honors or advanced classes. Continue reading