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Americans speak up on purpose of a public school education (+ Infographic)


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  • Lisa Irish/Arizona Education News Service

Photo Courtesy MIND Research Institute Video

Most Americans disagree on whether the purpose of a public school education is to prepare students for higher education, for work or to be good citizens, according to the 2016 Phi Delta Kappan poll.

The 48th poll of the public’s attitudes toward the public schools asked 1,221 Americans in 50 states about challenges facing schools and communities, including educational goals, standards, priorities and funding through phone interviews in April and May 2016.

Forty-five percent of Americans polled said that preparing students academically is the main goal of a public school education, while 26 percent said it was to prepare students to be good citizens and 25 percent said it was to prepare students for work.

Americans speak up on purpose of a public school education (+ Infographic) AZEdNewsPDKPoll2016Infographic

Infographic by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews
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for a larger JPEG of this infographic

Americans speak up on purpose of a public school education (+ Infographic) PDKPollReportCoverPeople’s responses to the survey were split along ideological and demographic lines.

Academics

  • Fifty percent of conservatives said academics was the main focus of a public school education, compared to 43 percent of moderates and 40 percent of liberals.

Citizenship

  • Thirty-three percent of liberals said schools should focus on building citizenship, that was much more than moderates at 24 percent and conservatives at 22 percent.

Work

  • Thirty percent of people who live in rural areas said preparing students for work was schools’ main goal, while 22 percent of city dwellers did.

What some Arizonans think

When AZEdNews asked Arizonans what they thought on social media last week, this is what they said.

Americans speak up on purpose of a public school education (+ Infographic) SocialMediaCommentsPDKPollFinal

AZEdNews social media comments on PDK Poll

 

Nationwide, those surveyed said schools should move away from more high-level academic classes and toward more classes that focus on work skills, possibly reflecting the economic uncertainty of recent years.

Also, 52 percent of survey respondents said it’s extremely important for schools to help students develop good work habits, but just 35 percent said preparing students to work successfully in groups was critical.

“There’s a real question today about education’s return on investment,” said Joshua P. Starr, CEO of PDK International. “While we know that a college degree is essential in today’s economy, parents and the public want to see a clearer connection between the public school system and the world of work.”