New PDK/Gallup Poll: Public’s School Attitudes Adjust Annually, So What?

30 08 2007

As Congress debates changes to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act with an eye to maximizing the achievement of all students, the following findings from the 2007 PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools highlight potential improvements in our nation’s education policy and identify the public’s interests and concerns. Now in its 39th year, the PDK/Gallup poll is the only authoritative source of longitudinal data on the public’s views on the nation’s schools and education policy.

This latest poll seems full of good news — but after 39 years, mainly just old news to me. I’ve followed this poll as an education “expert” myself for almost 30 of those years. Here’s the poll news from five years ago, if you want a post-millennium snapshot to compare the newest news with.

Talk about public education, seems this year’s “public” has finally learned its lesson about why standardized testing isn’t learning at all. A critical mass of the citizenry seems ready to begin a thesis on why No Child Left Behind should be left behind, if not expelled.

So NCLB and testing is out of favor, and change (in the form of public charters at least) is still gaining ground.

Good news, I guess.

But now what? School governance by political polling and corporate camel-nosing into school tents is what’s WRONG with public education in the first place, not right answers and certainly not well-thought-out reform. So we can’t just go by the public polls.

If we’ve learned anything by now as a people, surely it should’ve been that changes based on public polling aren’t progress so much as evermore good will and tax money sacrificed to the twin idols of “what all kids should know” and “what all teachers should make.” I find the education experts’ interpretations and policy advice accompanying the poll to be self-serving, self-congratulatory and in a few places, downright offensive.

A few “Lessons for Leaders”: Read the rest of this entry »