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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

There is no culture war in education's 'ideological heartland'

Most Americans are realists, not cultural warriors, when it comes to education, writes Bruno V. Manno on Two-thirds of Americans live in the "ideological heartland," he estimates, based on bipartisan polling.

"Spirit of America" Credit: Norman Rockwell

There is agreement -- or room to negotiate -- on a wide range of issues, such as "expanding career and technical education (CTE), increasing school funding, boosting childcare and early learning, raising teacher pay, and providing families and students with more educational options," he writes.

Above all, voters say improving K-12 education is a priority, Manno writes. Sixty-four percent believe "parents should have more control" over what public schools teach, though Republicans and Independents are much more likely to hold that view.

A majority (53%) supports increasing existing budgets for schools if funds follow students to “where they receive their education,” though nearly seven in ten (68%) Democrats oppose this approach. Almost seven in ten (69%) general voters, including a majority (51%) of Democrats, support creating more school options, including charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling.
. . . In an analysis of the 2023 gubernatorial state of the state addresses, the Education Commission of the States found that CTE, teaching quality, and school finance ranked “among the most popular” K-12 issues the governors mentioned.

Writing in The Bulwark, Manno points to a "new consensus" on the need for "non-college pathways to success."

Eighty-five percent of parents in an American Compass/YouGov survey wanted “more educational options available for my child,” including pathway programs, such as an apprenticeship after high school leading to a “valuable credential and a well-paying job,” he writes.

The survey asked whether high schools should offer students "diverse pathways" or "tracking" based on "their aptitudes and interests," notes Manno. Regardless of the term, 86 percent of parents and a similar percentage of young adults supported this approach.

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