Change is the new constant — the new status quo. Yet, while we thrive on technological advances, we worry that our social systems can’t keep pace with the accelerating rate of change. We have witnessed the rise and collapse of businesses and organizations, large and small, unable to evolve quickly enough to avoid extinction, and wonder how could that happen. We can’t imagine living without iPods, Internet, and cell phones, yet we still reminisce about the good old days. But that was then. This is now.
More than ever, improvements in technology and changes in social infrastructures require that all
organizations, whether they operate for profit or not for profit, implement thoughtful improvements in how they provide services or create products. Public schools aren’t exempt. For educators, this means identifying more efficient and effective approaches to helping all students learn.
Making the right changes requires research that primarily falls into two categories: 1) the analysis of experts, and 2) the opinions of stakeholders and consumers. Both sources of information are essential to organizations in order to avoid extinction.
The annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools is the most trusted source of American opinion about schools. It is not an advocacy poll. It is a carefully constructed research tool that provides direct feedback from the public — feedback that can provide corrective information to improve performance, feedback that educators and policy makers should seriously consider before implementing improvements to how teachers teach and children learn.
THIS YEAR’S ISSUES
A diverse and bipartisan group of education experts assembled in February to debate the issues and identify topics for this year’s poll (see page 26). This year, the following topics surfaced:
• The federal role in public education
• School quality
• Teacher salaries and teacher evaluation
• Teacher quality and perceptions of the teaching profession
• Student learning and rewards
• The importance of a college education
• Charter schools and parental choice
• The parents’ perspective about their child’s learning and their child’s future
With this PDK/Gallup poll report, you see the questions verbatim as they were asked — enabling you to make your own interpretation and reach your own conclusions of how Americans perceive the public schools.
The following is an excerpt from the report on charter schools.
CHARTER SCHOOLS AND PARENTAL CHOICE
In 1991, Minnesota was the first state to authorize public school academies, better known as charter
schools, and during the ensuing 20 years, charter schools have remained a lightning rod for controversy. Every year, various new reports document the successes and the failures of charter schools as an education reform option. The PDK/Gallup poll has monitored American’s attitudes toward charter schools throughout this decade, and the trend data is undeniable. This year, we added a question to make the charter school issue more personal by asking Americans if they would support new public charter schools in their communities. Finally, pulling from our archive of questions, we asked parents if they would consider moving their child to a different school.
• Americans increasingly embrace public charter
schools. In 2000, only 42% favored charter schools. Just 10 years later, favorable opinions increased to 68%. Support is uniform across several demographics, including respondent’s age, political affiliation, level of education, and even among public school parents.
• Similarly, almost two of three Americans would support a new public charter school in their communities, and 60% of Americans say they would go so far as to support a large increase in the number of public charter schools operating in the United States.
• Fifty-eight percent of public school parents said they would keep their children at the same school they now attend. This is about the same response we received when we first asked the question in 1996. There are two ways to view this response. The positive twist would suggest that more than half of parents are pleased with their child’s current school. On the negative side, four of 10 parents say they would move their child if they could — certainly not a vote of confidence from many parents.
For the full report, visit the link or download the attachment below.