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