Forty-seven percent of the public gave their local public schools an “A” or “B” in the 2014 Education Next survey, while 18 percent gave them a “D” or “F.” When asked to rate the nation’s public schools, just 20 percent awarded an “A” or a “B,” and 24 percent handed out a “D” or “F.”
This happens in just about every survey: Americans are very critical of schools in general but supportive of their local schools.
Why Do Americans Rate Their Local Public Schools So Favorably? asks Martin R. West at Brookings’ Chalkboard blog.
As part of the 2014 EdNext survey, respondents were asked to estimate how well the average student in their district performs in math relative to students elsewhere. They were quite accurate.
When asked to estimate how much is spent per pupil nationwide, the public makes an average estimate of $10,155 — quite close to the Census Bureau’s estimate of $10,608 in current spending per-pupil for 2012 and only modestly lower than the Department of Education’s estimate of $12,608 for 2011 (which includes capital and debt expenses).
But when asked about spending in their local school district, they estimate only $6,486 per pupil on average. In other words, Americans believe that their local schools spend just two-thirds the amount they believe public schools spend nationally – and roughly half what their local schools actually spend.
Those who underestimated spending gave higher grades to their local schools than “respondents with accurate information on school spending.”