The 38th Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll on what we think of our public schools has been released and there are a few finding that are pretty interesting, I think. Let me just say that I wonder just how much weight to give the responses since the vast majority of the respondents are graduates of the system and, therefore, I would think more apt to rate it better than it might be. The fact that only 32% of those surveyed had kids in school, and only 27% were college graduates at first seems surprising to me, but I’m sure they are just more reality checks than any type of outlier.

Anyway, here are some of the conclusions worth thinking about (with some short comments):

  • Public ratings of the local schools are near the top of their 38-year range (hmmm…maybe things aren’t so bad after all.)
  • There is near-consensus support for the belief that the problems the public schools face result from societal issues and not from the quality of schooling. (So what does that say? Should have been a question about what we do about that.)
  • The public is aware of the link between adequate funding and effective schooling and understands that current funding levels are a challenge for schools.
  • There is still majority support for at least the current level of testing, although there has been a shift toward the belief that there is “too much testing.” (Small steps…)
  • Large and growing numbers see the emphasis on testing translating into “teaching to the test,” and those saying that doing so is a “bad thing” are nearing consensus. (Finally…)
  • There is near consensus that closing the achievement gap is of great importance and that it is unnecessary to sacrifice high standards to do it. (But interestingly, 39% of respondents said it’s not the public school’s job to close it. Hmmm…)
  • The public is divided on the question of revising the curriculum to meet today’s needs. (Though the 47% who say that the curriculum needs to be changed is a significant increase over the 31% who thought so in 1970.)
  • The public does not believe that students in their local schools work hard enough in school or on homework outside of school. (And what do we do about that?)
  • Almost half of the respondents believe they are knowledgeable about NCLB, while just over half believe they know little or nothing about the law. Those who believe they know enough to express an opinion are also divided between viewing the law favorably and unfavorably.
  • So, the question is, do we just keep on keeping on? Is the context that our community trying to put out there anywhere on these respondent’s radar? Do we see things differently because of that context, and, if so, do we see them rightly? Do they get the concept of this slide in Karl Fisch’s wonderful opening day Powerpoint:

    Name this Country:

  • Richest in the World
  • Largest Military
  • Center of world business and finance
  • Strongest education system
  • World center of innovation and invention
  • Currency the world standard of value
  • Highest standard of living
  • Answer: England in 1900.

    Just some things to think about…

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