Admittedly, I haven’t blogged for a while, preferring to point your attention to authors and articles that say it better. But I recently came across a survey of registered Pennsylvania voters conducted by the Education Policy and Leadership Center - the results of which I found fascinating, and occasionally astonishing.
When asked to identify the top two issues facing Pennsylvania, 57%. of voters identified the economy (of course). But a strong second: “increasing state funding for education”, at 40%. Who knew?
Respondents felt that Pa. public schools do a fairly good job preparing students for college – but that they’re not quite as good at preparing them for “jobs after high school”. I think that’s worth thinking about. As usual, ‘my local school’ fares somewhat better than schools in general.
When asked to identify the greatest challenge facing teachers, the big winner (loser) was “lack of parental involvement/support”, which has grown from 48% to 57% in just two years. But coming from way back in the pack to a close second at 50%: budget cuts to education. That surprised me.
By far, “the most important factor” in judging the success of a public school should be “student success in post-secondary education or the workforce”. While that may seem like common sense – and it is – wouldn’t it be something if that’s how schools were actually evaluated? (as opposed to test scores, graduation rates, teacher ‘performance’, etc.)
Here’s the result that stunned me: 96% agree (80%, strongly agree) that “the well-being of the Commonwealth depends upon having an educated citizenry.” Similarly, 97% believe that “all students in Pennsylvania are legally entitled to a quality education.” When do 97% of people agree on anything?? And how well is that belief reflected in our budgetary priorities?
Good question! The answer: by a margin of 68-20%, taxpaying voters believe that “state government should increase funding to poorer districts, even if it means less funding for wealthier districts.”
In a similar vein, here’s a result I was encouraged to see, since I’ve been making this point for years: 93% of voters agree (75% strongly) that “state government has a responsibility to ensure adequate funding for all school districts… regardless of wealth.” Again, how well is this reflected in public policy? Even more stunning: even in “poor economic times” 81% believe that “lawmakers must make politically difficult decisions concerning additional state revenues” (otherwise known as “raising taxes”).
In another victory for the state constitution: 66% oppose taxpayer support for non-public schools, including the religiously-affiliated.
Also notable: strong support for arts education (81%) and full-day kindergarten (73%)
And just in case you were wondering, 43% of respondents identified themselves as having “conservative” social and political views; 25% considered themselves “moderates”; 28% “liberal”.