Public Attitudes About Public Schools ’07

December 3, 2007

The results are in. For all the hue and cry about the poor performance of public schools, parents are pretty satisfied with their own children’s schools — though they think the nation’s schools as a whole are doing a rather mediocre job.

This has been the case for a long time now — everyone else’s schools are doing a lousy job, but not my children’s schools.

What to make of it?

Human nature, maybe? If I admit my kids’ schools are bad, I’ll feel guilty not doing anything about it.

Good PR? Many schools work hard on local PR. The “I know a nice teacher syndrome.” I know a lady who thought her daughter’s public school was pretty good until she took the child out of school for health reasons and began to homeschool. All of a sudden, the child began to soar academically, and the parents realized that, nice teacher aside, the child simply had not been living up to her potential.

Here are some results from The 39th Annual Phi Delta Kappa/ Gallup Poll Of the Public’s Attitudes Toward The Public Schools (2007).

53% of public school parents give their local public schools an overall peformance grade of A/B. 67% give an A/B grade to their oldest child’s school.

Yet only 14% of public school parents give the nation’s public schools an overall perfomance grade of A/B.

68% of public school parents believe schools should be responsible not only for academic achievement, but also for students’ behavioral, social and emotional needs.

51% of people feel the greatest authority over what schools teach should rest in the hands of state (31%) or federal (20%) authorities and not the local school board.

66% of people oppose public school systems run by private, for-profit companies.

73% of people would be unwilling to allow their high schooler to take all his or her courses on-line. This is up from 49% in 2001.

Given the choice between improving public schools by reforming them and improving them by finding an alternative to them, 29% of public school parents chose finding an alternative and 24% of people with no children in school chose finding an alternative.

60% of people oppose allowing students to attend private schools on taxpayer-funded vouchers. 39% favor it. When asked in more specific ways, 67% of people oppose private schooling fully funded by the state; 48% oppose even partially funded private schooling.