PDK Annual Poll Shows Confidence in Public Schools, LFA Members Say

By Joetta Sack-Min

Statements and analyses by members of the Learning First Alliance find support for job training and CTE alongside high-level academic courses, and less support for taxpayer-funded vouchers

Phi Delta Kappa International released its 2017 PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools this week, finding strong support for preparing students for jobs and careers and support for interpersonal and communications skills.

“Americans overwhelmingly want schools to do more than educate students in academic subjects,” according to the executive summary. “When judging school quality, the public gives much more weight to students’ job preparation and interpersonal development than to their standardized test scores.”

The comprehensive poll also found little support for using public money to send students to private schools. The more Americans know about how voucher programs work, the less likely they are to support them or to say they’d participate in them,” a PDK analysis states.

Several member organizations of the Learning First Alliance released statements or wrote commentaries on the poll, including these organizations:

A blog by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education noted that, “This year’s survey sought to learn more about last year’s discovery of a desire among the American public for schools to focus less on honors classes and more on career and technical education. The new data suggest that the public really wants both strong academics and job preparation, including classes focused on career skills, technology and engineering, and programs leading to a professional certificate or license. The less satisfied respondents are with their local schools, the more likely they are to say schools should offer more job/career skills classes.”

AASA, the School Superintendents Association: AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech released a statement on the poll and discussed his thoughts in this blog: “When it comes to our nation’s schools, the overarching message from the public remains steady: academic achievement isn’t the only mission, and as such they support investments in career preparation and personal skills.”

American Federation of Teachers: AFT President Randi Weingarten said, “Parents are telling our leaders to stop making public schools a battleground. They have confidence in their children’s teachers and their neighborhood public schools, and believe they should have the resources they need to prepare students for successful lives and careers.”

National Education Association: An NEA news article emphasized poll results that showed a lack of support for using taxpayer funds for vouchers.

The National School Boards Association also reported on the survey’s findings on taxpayer funds for vouchers and school choice in this story.

And Learning First Alliance Executive Director Richard M. Long analyzed the poll in this blog, “Public/ Private Debate on Schools Is Not Where the Public’s At.” He writes, “In reviewing the poll findings, it becomes clear that public has demanding expectations, and that simple answers such as more testing or sending public money to private and/or religiously affiliated schools will not address what the public considers to be the important aspects of quality.”

LFA Deputy Director Anne O’Brien also discussed the poll’s findings on “Parents’ Attitudes Toward School Diversity.”


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