The 44th Annual PDK/Gallup Poll on public schools has some interesting findings. The very first question the poll asks
Going back 10 years to 2002, we combined the responses that include discipline concerns, such as fighting, gang violence, and drugs. In 2002, these were the biggest problems identified by 39% of Americans. Today, just 10 years later, only 14% of Americans mentioned concerns about fighting, drugs, and poor discipline. This year, as in the last few years, lack of funding was by far the most common single response Americans cited as the biggest challenge facing schools in their communities. Parents were even more unified that lack of funding was the No. 1 challenge facing schools.
A further question explored sentiment to improving urban schools
Ninety-seven percent believe it’s very or somewhat important to improve the nation’s urban schools, indicating a strong continuing commitment, and almost two of three Americans said they would be willing to pay more taxes to provide funds to improve the quality of the nation’s urban schools. However, there was a clear difference of opinion between Republicans (41% in favor) versus Democrats (80% in favor) on the taxation question.
It's hard to get 97% of Americans to agree on pretty much anything, so to have that, and 2 out of 3 citizens wanting to increase taxes to address it, one might be forgiven for thinking we're talking about apple pie not urban education. A tip of the hat must also be given for recognition that our education system is unequal
On teacher evaluations, there is a significant divide
Americans are evenly divided on whether states should require that teacher evaluations include how well a teacher’s students perform on standardized tests, and this finding is consistent across all demographic groups. Clearly, American opinion on this doesn’t match the massive effort under way in many states and school districts to do so. Of the 52% who favor including students’ performance on standardized tests in teacher evaluations, almost half said this should constitute between one-third and two-thirds of the teacher’s evaluation.
Considering that people have only heard from one side of the debate on this, and have yet to see the consequences of these corporate education reform policies, this is likely to be a high water mark.
On the subject of teachers, few professions garner as much trust as teachers
Remaining constant over a series of years, 71% of Americans have trust in teachers, despite constant efforts to tear them down by corporate education reformers and their billionaire and media supporters .
You can read the entire survey at this link. We'll close out with words from teacher of the year, Rebecc Mieliwocki.
What a wonderful shot in the arm this year’s survey results are for the American schoolteacher. The core truth is that Americans are confident in their child’s teachers and proud of our educational system.
They see the best educators as caring, attentive, and demanding professionals. They want us to have the freedom to create relevant, rigorous, and engaging lessons for students and to have our effectiveness measured fairly through both classroom observations and student scores on standardized tests.
Americans want teachers held to high standards from the moment we enter a preparation program to our last day in the classroom, and they want us to improve how we prepare young people for the rigors of college and their careers. These are all good things. Just like teachers themselves, Americans want to see schools and the teaching profession elevated and strengthened.
The great news is that kids are learning more than ever before from teachers who are better trained than at any time in history. Walk into most classrooms in America, and you’ll see tremendous things happening. Yet, the persistent negative messages about public schools and teachers remain. If we hope to attract the best and the brightest into the profession and keep them there, we’ve got to put an end to this.