Americans said schools should spend more time preparing students for careers and developing interpersonal skills they’ll use in the workforce and less time on testing in the 49th Annual Phi Delta Kappan Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.
The national random phone survey of a representative sample of 1,588 adults in the 50 states was done in earlier this year and released in September.
Responses showed that there is little public support for using public money to send children to private schools, and a lack of funding is the biggest problem facing local public schools. In Arizona, Empowerment Scholarship Accounts provide public money for a select group of of students to attend private schools.
The responses indicate that “some of the most prominent ideas that dominate current policy debates – from supporting vouchers to doubling down on high-stakes tests to cutting federal education funding – are out of step with parents’ main concern: They want their children prepared for life after they complete high school,” according to the report.
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In Arizona, business leaders said education is Arizona’s top investment need according to a survey in Alliance Bank of Arizona’s “Arizona 2016 CEO Outlook.” Increasing funding for schools and increasing teacher pay were the two top education issues in a statewide survey conducted on behalf of Expect More Arizona in 2015.
While most parents said they value racial and ethnic diversity in schools, less do when that means a longer trip to school for their children. Seventy-two percent of Black respondents said diversity was highly important, significantly more than the 57% of Latinos and 48% of white respondents.
Americans said public schools should provide wraparound services – such as medical, dental and mental health services as well as after-school programs – for students who do not have access to them elsewhere and that schools should seek additional public funds to provide these support services to help students succeed in school and life.
Many results from this year’s poll were similar to last year’s results, but one item stands out. The percentage of respondents who gave their local public school an A grade is the highest it has been in the past 40 years.
When asked what the biggest problems facing schools in their community are, 22 percent of respondents said lack of funding, 9 percent said standards, 7 percent said a lack of good teachers, 6 percent said violence and 6 percent said drugs.
Sixty-one percent of parents said they expect their children to attend college full-time, 22 percent said their students will attend part-time and work part-time, and 7 percent said their children will seek a full-time job after graduating high school.
The annual Phi Delta Kappan Poll is conducted every year in May and results are released in the fall. The survey asks questions about people’s attitudes toward public education, their local schools and about various education issues and topics each year.