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Faith in the Public Schools: Arlington vs. America?

Yesterday, the Arlington Sun Gazette's Scott McCaffrey reported on the 2012 "community satisfaction survey" that was presented to the Arlington School Board at their meeting last night (see monitoring item E-1 of the School Board's June 19, 2012 meeting for a summary of the results, requires Adobe). McCaffrey started his reporting this way:

"Despite generally positive results across the board, Arlington students and teachers don’t seem as enthralled about the county school system as parents and, to a lesser degree, the general public appear to be.

"That’s one of the results of a community-satisfaction survey slated to be reported to the School Board tonight.

"While 59 percent of parents surveyed, and 43 percent of the general public, gave the school system an overall grade of “A”, only 30 percent of teachers and 31 percent of staff members gave it the top grade – and only 29 percent of students thought the school system was doing “A” work.

"The percentage of teachers and staff rating the school system at the top declined significantly from 2009, when the last survey was taken, a time when the school system was just embarking on belt-tightening measures."

According to a Gallup survey published today, however, there's this news (HT Via Meadia, the blog of American Interest):

"Americans' confidence in public schools is down five percentage points from last year, with 29% expressing "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in them. That establishes a new low in public school confidence from the 33% measured in Gallup's 2007 and 2008 Confidence in Institutions polls. The high was 58% the first time Gallup included public schools, in 1973."

The Gallup survey shows  that confidence in the public school has dropped from 58% in 1973 to 29% today. Via Media's Walter Russell Mead comments on  the latest survey information:

"This decline is alarming but understandable. With each passing year it becomes increasingly clear that the big-box school model that carried America through much of the 20th century is no longer working. School expenditures have increased even as performance has declined or stagnated, and international comparisons consistently show America falling short relative to other developed nations. Meanwhile, across the country, parents who can afford it are pulling their children out of highly bureaucratized public schools and putting them into private ones where they can at least have some influence in the shape of their children’s education. Small wonder that public schools are losing the support of the public they were created to serve.

"The solution, as we have remarked before, is a decentralized system that puts more power into the hands of parents and teachers. This would work wonders to restore people’s confidence in our schools as a whole."

More competition for the public schools? What a concept?

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