What Philadelphia parents want

What do parents want from schools? The Philadelphia Daily News looks at the results of a Pew study of Philadelphia school parents, which included a poll and focus groups.

* Parents like charter schools. They really like them. A whopping 90 percent of parents who had chosen charter schools for their children – and an even higher 92 percent of Catholic school parents – approve of the choices they made.

* Parents don’t like district public schools. They really don’t like them. In the Pew poll, 58 percent of parents with kids in district schools said the overall job they were doing was “only fair” or poor. Nearly two-thirds of district school parents – 63 percent – said they had considered leaving the district for charter or parochial schools.

* Parents want safety and discipline in school. They really want it. Parents in focus groups rarely mentioned academics unless they were prompted to do so. Their positive evaluations of charter and Catholic schools – and their highly negative assessment of district schools – were based mostly on the perceived availability of safety, discipline and a caring environment.

* Parents want choices. They really want them. Most parents ( 72 percent) said they don’t have enough choices in schools, and increasing parental choice is the best way to improve education.

The Daily News worries that parents who are satisfied with their own school choices won’t care whether other children are getting a good education.

Maybe not. But would it better if nobody was happy?

District schools are improving to compete with charter schools, which have grown rapidly, the Daily News opines.  “But Father and Mother may not always know best – and educators need to know how to deal with that, too.”

I think this means:  Close low-scoring charter schools, even if parents are happy for safety reasons.  If students can move to higher-scoring, equally safe schools, sure. But remember that inner-city parents have very good reasons to value safety and discipline.

Via Flypaper.

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Comments

  1. SuperSub says:

    Plain and simple -
    This study suggests that schools have failed their most basic mission, more important than even education – ensuring the safety of its students.
    From the posts I’ve seen in support of homeschooling, the growth in homeschooling is also largely due to the same problem.
    Parents want to ensure the physical, mental, and ethical safety of their children. By mental and ethical safety, I’m referring to bullying and exposure to immoral acts like sex and drugs in elementary and middle schools.
    No matter the education options that a school provides, parents will send their children to lower-performing schools if they think their children will be harmed at the higher-performing school.

  2. Educational leaders (sometimes spurred by threat of legal action) have in recent years attempted to remediate violent behavior “in place,” meaning without removing the student who commits violence to another educational environment. This can work; sometimes it does work. But if there are more than a few aggressive students being retained in a school, the overall climate becomes threatening to the other students. And as noted above, parents vote with their feet, if they can.

  3. This is perhaps the silliest thing I’ve read in a while.

    “Parents like charter schools. They really like them. A whopping 90 percent of parents who had chosen charter schools for their children – and an even higher 92 percent of Catholic school parents – approve of the choices they made.”

    What an idiotic statement. Charter schools and Catholic schools are not the default. You have to go out of your way to get your kid into them. You have to pay for Catholic schools. A parent of a charter school kid is automatically in favor of what they’re doing – otherwise he wouldn’t BE a charter parent, would he? And yet, only 90 percent of them are happy with what they’ve gone to great lengths to get?

    Think about that for a minute.

    Far more enlightening would have been the percentage of ALL parents who liked charter schools … but that wouldn’t distort the data enough, would it? Selection bias, anyone?

  4. Talk about biased. Or maybe the reporter was just trying to protect the proper slant …

    “58% of parents with kids in district schools said the overall job they were doing was “only fair” or poor.”

    What the Pew study actually said was:
    “While only 40 percent of parents with children in district-run schools think the public school system as a whole is doing a good or excellent job, 71 percent judge their own children’s schools to be good or excellent.”

    Funny how the Daily News cherry-picked that one out, huh?

  5. Curmdugeon,

    Welcome to the world of teacher and public school bashing that is the “reform” crowd.

  6. And heading up that “reform” crowd is…drum roll…Secretary of Education Duncan and the guy who hired him!

    So Mike, what’s the word from Public Education Central about Race To The Top? Another conspiracy by fat cat Republicans to line their pockets at the expense of the darling, little tykes who would otherwise be enjoying the undiluted compassion of the public education system?

  7. Nah, a conspiracy of fat cat POLITCIANS!

  8. “This is perhaps the silliest thing I’ve read in a while…” “What an idiotic statement…”

    Curmudgeon is obviously a public school teacher.

    It would seem to me that a parents who would go to the trouble of enrolling their kids into a charter school are likely predisposed to being critical towards their childrens’ schools. And having made the move to a charter, what would be the likely reaction if these parents are disappointed with the results, or if they see no great improvement for all their effort?

    While this doesn’t rule out selection bias, it certainly casts doubt on the inevitability of bias, as well as the direction.

  9. “This is perhaps the silliest thing I’ve read in a while…” “What an idiotic statement…”

    Curmudgeon is obviously a public school teacher.

    It would seem to me that a parents who would go to the trouble of enrolling their kids into a charter school are likely predisposed to being critical towards their childrens’ schools. And having made the move to a charter, what would be the likely reaction if these parents are disappointed with the results, or if they see no great improvement for all their effort?

    While this doesn’t rule out selection bias, it certainly casts doubt on the inevitability of bias, as well as the direction.

  10. Oh yeah Mike, I forgot that when faced with the political nature of public education you retreat to the fantasy of the Dictatorship of the Pedagogiat.

    The irony is that charters and vouchers will produce what you claim to want, a public education system much freer of the influences of politics then the current system, and which you rail against.

  11. Allen,

    But it hasn’t. Charters have been in place in many state for years, with results that don’t match the hype. Check out the achievement on Ohio charters and you’ll see for yourself.

    Not that you’ll believe it.

  12. And as usual you dodge the question.

    So Mike, how do you propose to run a political organization without politicians?

  13. And this has WHAT to do with the story?

    As for dodging issues, you are the champion. I noticed you haven’t looked up Ohio Charter school achievement so here’s a nice little link for you.

    http://www.kidsohio.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/public-charter-schools-in-ohio-key-facts_kidsohio-org_042309-read-only.pdf

    Be sure to check out pages 9 and 10.

    Ah, I know you want so here are the facts:

    Charter schools receiving a D or F: 64%
    Public schools receiving a D or F: 14%

    Now what your step Allen and be sure you don’t let the facts and the truth trip you up.

  14. Dodging again. Remember, the problems of public education would go away without all those politicians mucking it up? That was your complaint.

  15. Lou Gots says:

    It is instuctive to note where Philadlphia teachers send their own children. My admittedly anecdotal observation based on two years teaching in Philadelphia is anyplace but. Something about those I.D.S.I. incidents in the middle school firetowers.

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