December 12, 2010

Poll: Don't put all of the blame on teachers

Source: NYSUT Media Relations

From the Associated Press:

Poll: Don't put all the blame on teachers

Blaming teachers for low test scores, poor graduation rates and the other ills of American schools has been popular lately, but a new survey suggests that there's enough blame to go around.

Only 35 percent of the adults surveyed in an Associated Press-Stanford University Poll agreed that teachers deserve a great deal or a lot of the blame. On the other hand, 68 percent believe parents should take the responsibility for problems in the U.S. education system. Moms were more likely than dads - 72 percent versus 61 percent - to say parents are accountable.

The problems children and their parents deal with inside and outside of school every day are growing, said Julie Woestehoff, executive director of Parents United for Responsible Education, a Chicago advocacy group. Children are tired, they're hungry and they need someone to help with their homework. Some kids face violence at home or in their neighborhood. Some parents are trying so hard to keep a roof over their family that they can't help with school.

Other findings:

  • Half of those polled said student discipline and fighting, violence and gangs were extremely or very serious problems in schools. Nearly as many expressed concern about getting and keeping good teachers.
  • Most said education in their local public schools is excellent or good, but 67 percent also believe the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to education.
  • A majority of parents see improvement in the system since they were in school: 55 percent believe their children are getting a better education than they did, and three-quarters rate the quality of education at their child's school as excellent or good.
  • Most say their child's school is doing a good job preparing students for college, the work force and life as an adult.

A variety of research in past years backs up the poll respondents' sense that parenting plays key roles in school performance.

Educating parents about how the school system works and welcoming them to get involved may also help their children, according to Joyce L. Epstein, research professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University, who focuses on school, family and community partnerships.

Poll results are available online at survey.ap.org.