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Poll Finds Wide Support for America's Public Schools

Good news for public school advocates and bad news for national education policy makers.

The stated goals of the No Child Left Behind Act meet with a high level of public approval – particularly the need to close the achievement gaps among different demographic groups.

However, the Act's methods for achieving those goals do not. The American public believes education should be reformed by working with the local schools, not by tearing them down and farming out the work to private interests.

These are just a few of the insights provided by the 38th annual Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools by Phi Delta Kappa and the Gallup Organization that was released on Tuesday, August 22. Among other things, the poll shows that:

  • Public ratings of their local schools are near the top of their 38-year range;
  • A majority of Americans who are familiar with NCLB believe the law has had no effect on their schools or has harmed them;
  • The public supports neither the reliance on single statewide test scores nor the punitive measures that NCLB applies to schools that do not make "adequate yearly progress; "
  • People generally like their local schools and believe they are best equipped to bring about improvements in student learning.

In addition, the public's definition of "education" appears to encompass far more in terms of student learning and socialization than does the definition of federal policy makers.

Information about the 2006 PDK/Gallup poll, including a news release, a paper on policy implications and the full results of the study, is available at http://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/kpollpdf.htm.

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