Americans Split on Key Educational Issues
The American public is split on what careers talented high school students should pursue, the role of teachers unions, and the level of investment in classroom technology, according to the recently released Phi Delta Kappa / Gallup Poll on attitudes toward public schools. Of the 1,002 people polled, 62 percent have no children currently in school, 29 percent have children in public schools, and 5 percent send their children to private schools.
Half of Americans polled say talented math and science students should become scientists, while the other half say they should become science or math teachers. About three fourths of those polled say they would encourage friends to become teachers if they showed interest; a quarter would suggest a different field. About two thirds say they wouldn't mind if their child became a public school teacher.
[Read about the lack of qualified science and math teachers.]
About half of the people polled say teacher unionization has hurt the public school system; a quarter say it helped, and a quarter believe it makes no difference. A slight majority (52 percent) of Americans sided with the teachers unions in the labor battles that have taken place in states such as Indiana and Wisconsin; 44 percent sided with the governors, while 4 percent say they didn't know or declined to answer the question.
[Learn about a teachers union's stance on teacher evaluations.]
Americans agree that the use of technology is important in the classroom, but a quarter of people polled said public schools should not invest more money in computer technology. Americans aren't sure whether each high school student should have a dedicated computer at school: 51 percent say they should, while 49 percent say students should share computers.
Other notable findings:
• A plurality (36 percent) of Americans believe lack of financial support and funding is the biggest problem facing schools; overcrowded schools (6 percent) and lack of discipline in schools (6 percent) were the next biggest problems.
• A majority (51 percent) of Americans would give the school in their community an A or B if they had to give it a grade. Meanwhile, only 17 percent would give public school systems as a whole an A or B. Sixteen percent of Americans say their local school deserves a D or an F; 30 percent say the school system deserves a D or an F.
• Three fourths of Americans are in favor of allowing parents to send their child to any public school in their school district. Currently, with a few exceptions, parents have to send their children to the school their address is assigned.