What Americans think about public schools

I am a fan of the annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll.  I enjoy looking at the survey data and reading about themes emerging from the public perception of schools.  In addition, the report contains sidebars from education researchers, teachers, and politicians about public schools today.  I frequently use this poll in my graduate policy classes to stimulate discussion about the reality of teaching and schools and the public perception.  Below is the highlights page from PDK. This is not my summary, but the actual 1st page of the document from PDK.  The entire Poll and results are linked below and can be accessed at   http://www.pdkintl.org/poll/index.htm .

Highlights of the 2011 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll

TEACHING AS A CAREER

We think it would be great if our children became teachers, and we think having more science teachers is just as important as having more scientists.

UNIONS

About half of us believe teacher unions are hurting public education. However, governors should tread cautiously because we’re more likely to support teacher union leaders than governors in disputes over teacher collective bargaining.

SALARIES

When calculating a teacher’s salary, consider multiple factors including the principal’s evaluation, advanced degrees, and experience.

LAYOFFS

When making decisions about layoffs, listen to what the principal says about a teacher. Weigh that evaluation more heavily than the rule of last hired-first fired.

QUALITY TEACHING

We’ll take larger classes with more effective teachers over smaller classes with less effective teachers and access to higher-quality instruction over the Internet over learning in a classroom with a less effective teacher. The message: Quality counts.

CHOICE

We increasingly like charter schools, but we remain unconvinced that vouchers are a good idea.

E-READERS

We think e-readers are a better idea for older students than younger students.

FINANCES

Lack of money is the biggest problem facing public schools; we don’t worry as much about poor student discipline and drugs as we used to.

PERCEPTIONS OF QUALITY

We’re proud of the schools we know and think less of the schools we don’t know — it’s a matter of local pride.

The 2011 PDK/Gallup poll results are available at http://www.pdkpoll.org. An app containing the entire poll is also available for a free download at the iTunes store. Search for Phi Delta Kappan.

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