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Posted at 1:57 PM ET, 09/29/2009

How Do Americans View Their Public Schools?

By Valerie Strauss

This post was submitted by educator Stephen Krashen to Kappan, the magazine of Phi Delta Kappa International, an association for professional educators. It is a response to the 41st annual PDK/Gallup poll on how Americans view public education, published in the group's September 2009 issue. Do you agree or disagree with him? How do you rate your neighborhood public school?

"As is always the case, the recent PDK/Gallup poll (September 2009) found that people rate their local schools much more positively than they do schools in the United States in general.

The differences were striking: Fifty-one percent of respondents said they would give the public schools in their neighborhood a grade of A or B, but only 19% would give public schools in the nation A or B.

When asked about the school their oldest child attends, 74% said they would give the school an A or B, suggesting that those who have more information about local schools rate them more highly.

In a column accompanying the poll, [educational psychologist] Gerald Bracey ("Experience outweighs rhetoric") gives a logical explanation for this phenomenon: "Americans never hear anything positive about the nation’s schools," noting that "negative information flows almost daily from media, politicians, and ideologues."

Bracey’s many columns in the Kappan and his books provide overwhelming evidence that this perception of the quality of the nation’s schools is undeserved.

In an interview in the same issue of the Kappan ("Quality education is our moon shot") Education Secretary [Arne] Duncan gives his opinion of why people think local schools are better than schools in general: "Too many people don’t understand how bad their own schools are."

Duncan thinks that parents need to be 'woken up' to see that their own children are being short-changed. In other words, they are not to be trusted on evaluating the quality of their own child’s education, despite the fact that they are daily witnesses to the results of their child’s schooling."

By Valerie Strauss  | September 29, 2009; 1:57 PM ET
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan  | Tags:  education secretary arne duncan, gerald bracey, public education, stephen krashen  
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Mr. Stephen Krashen:

When people answer these kinds of surveys on schools, they're defining a grade of 'A' or 'B'in the same manner as Jay Mathews just wrote a real estate column on "10 Ways to Pick a Good School." It's all about location, location, location. Few people will give their own school a low grade because that would mean the same thing as saying they live in a bad neighborhood. God forbid.

Just one more reason to get rid of the neighborhood school design. It does us no good when we're trying to assess the effectiveness of schools.

Posted by: doglover6 | September 29, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Parents are only deluding themselves about their own schools.

As a retired public school teacher I am convinced that the so-called public schools are harming America. Please see "Call to Dunkirk" at Public schools cannot be redeemed. Saying we should not abandon them is like saying the passengers of the Titanic should have stayed aboard because the band was playing good music and the captain was a good man.

Posted by: kcpriest | September 30, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

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