Parents blame parents for bad schools

Most Americans support school accountability, but also want to hold parents accountable too, concludes Will It Be on the Test? by the Kettering Foundation and Public Agenda. Based on focus groups held around the country, the report compares the views of parents and reform leaders.

Many see the accountability movement as “profoundly incomplete because it provides so few answers to problems they see as pivotal—too many irresponsible parents, too many unmotivated students, too little support from the community, and messages from society that undermine learning and education.

Only 29 percent of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in public schools, according to Gallup polls. That’s “a new low in public school confidence,” Gallup reports. In the early 1970s, 58 percent were confident of public school quality.

Just 2 percent of parents thought that the drive to raise standards in public schools should “be stopped and things should go back to the way they were.”

. . . surveys show continuing support for the basic goals of the accountability movement—that American children can and should learn at higher levels, that students from all backgrounds should have the chance to succeed, and that principals and teachers should be well trained and energetic in helping students learn. In fact, more than half of the parents (56 percent) say that enacting proposals to measure teacher effectiveness based on student performance should be a top priority for education reform.

In some cases, parents identify areas they believe need more attention (parent involvement and student behavior, for example). In others, they point to reforms that seem to them to be getting out of hand (testing, the drive to close poorly performing schools).

Most parents value neighborhood schools, even if they’re not performing well, and want to seem them improved,  not closed, the report found.

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  1. Crimson Wife says:

    I would like to see more public schools implement the requirements for volunteer hours and signing a behavior contract that many charter and private schools do.

    • The whole point of public education is that it’s supposed to be free. PS parents already have to pay incredibly high book rental fees (around here they run more than it would cost a parent to go out and buy new copies of the books), recess fees, and technology fees. They have to buy tissues and toilet paper for the school. They have to spend 4 hours a night on homework with their children. And you want forced volunteer time too? I guess it would serve a purpose— by encouraging more parents to home school in order to save time and money!

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        Book rental fees, recess fees, and technology fees, as well as having to buy toilet paper? Where is this?

        If your state constitution has some language about “guaranteeing to all citizens a free public education,” there is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

        • Indiana. They give discounts to the needy, but if you’re middle class and not working full time, homeschooling saves money. And that’s before you get into all the fundraisers that are basically required– you know, the wrapping paper sales, the scrip, the box tops for education which only happen on products that people trying to save money don’t buy, the frozen food sales….

          I assumed it was like this everywhere these days… is there anywhere where public schools are actually free?

          • In California we cannot require them to provide their own pencils and paper. We are not allowed to make participation in fundraisers a requirement for extra curricular activities.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            Massachusetts. Though most schools now have “activity fees” for those who do sports or band or anything extracurricular that involves the school spending money.

      • Crimson Wife says:

        The local charter school requires only 30 hrs per year, which works out to be only 3 hours per month. Many of the opportunities can be done from home on the parents’ schedule. I don’t think that is unreasonable.

  2. Gahrie– wow! I don’t know if the fundraisers are required here (no kids in school), but I know there’s at least a lot of social pressure to meet individual and class goals.

  3. Parents should be accountable to the government? It makes sense to a certain kind of person. I think students should be held accountable–but only by recording grades. I think they should stay free (as far as the state has any say) to decide how to spend their lives. I think teachers should be accountable for teaching the curriculum–but not for whether or not students come to school or do any work.
    Parents I think should be held accountable to their own consciences as to what is right and wrong–but not to the government.
    I think the government should be held accountable to the citizens, including parents.

  4. Colorado: Tissues or TP; communal: glue, paper, markers, chalk, etc, etc. On top of the typical athletic fees, etc. Yes, you could waiver out if you were getting free and reduced student lunch.