September/October 2013 Issue
September 17, 2013

Positive gains for public education

Source: NYSUT United

The most recent PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, an independent, scientific survey conducted annually since 1969, shows a shift in attitudes in a number of key areas and supports findings in recent parent polls conducted by NYSUT and AFT:

Support for educators

More than 70% of Americans have trust and confidence in the men and women who teach in public schools. For people under the age of 40, the response was 78 percent.

53% of Americans give the public schools in their communities an A or B — the highest rating ever recorded by the poll.

94% of Americans overall say activities such as school band, drama and sports are very or somewhat important to a young person's education. In 1997, the number was 89 percent.

Standardized testing

77% of Americans believe that the increase in student standardized testing during the last decade has either had no effect or hurt instruction in their schools.

63% of Americans oppose releasing to the public information about how students of individual teachers perform on standardized tests. Two years ago, 51 percent were in favor.

Education finances

36% of parents and 35% of Americans as a whole agree — the lack of financial support is the biggest problem for public schools. The numbers are 10 percentage points higher than the 2003 poll. Overcrowded schools were identified by 11 percent of parents as the second biggest problem.

70% of Americans oppose using taxpayer money to fund vouchers for private schools — the highest level of opposition to vouchers ever recorded in the poll — compared to 55 percent in 2012.

93% of Americans say making college affordable is very or somewhat important.

84% of Americans say investing in early childhood education is very or somewhat important. And, almost two of three Americans — 63% — are willing to support these programs with taxes, up from 55 percent in 1991.

School safety

Almost 90% of parents say they do not fear for their child's safety while attending school, a significant increase from the 1997 poll (63 percent). However, they say they are more concerned about the actions of other children than they are about intruders (80 percent vs. 14 percent).

52% of parents and 59% of Americans overall support providing more mental health services rather than security guards to promote school safety.

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