Parents still prefer good quality neighborhood schools over more school choice, according to a survey released Tuesday by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and conducted by Hart Research Associates.
The online poll of 1,200 parents in 10 major cities, including Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York, shows that while 71% of the overall sample agree that they want good local public schools, African-American parents and those earning under $40,000 were more likely than white and Hispanic parents to prefer more choice.
As with many surveys, the respondents give high marks to their local schools, with 73% rating them as excellent or good. Their top priorities are for schools to provide a safe environment and help students graduate with the skills they need for college, while inadequate funding and “too much standardized testing” were listed as the biggest problems facing schools.
The AFT’s survey takes aim at the Trump administration’s and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s plans to expand school choice and even asked parents what they think of how she’s doing her job. “Parents deeply support the public schools their children attend and are happy with the job public schools are doing,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a statement. “And while we will never be satisfied until every public school is a place parents want to send their children, educators want to work, and kids are engaged and happy, these results confirm the sentiment we’ve seen in other recent polls that show support for public education continuing to rise.”
The results come as attention has increased in recent weeks to competition between traditional public schools and charter schools. Last month, a University of Arkansas analysis showed that charter schools in New York City receive almost 40% less funding that traditional public schools. Meanwhile, in a new book, David Osborne, director of the Reinventing America’s Schools project at PPI, writes about how charter schools in the District of Columbia are outperforming traditional schools.
In her visits to schools this week, Secretary Betsy DeVos, shot back at “naysayers who loudly defend something they like to call the education ‘system.’” In remarks at Woods Learning Center, a “teacher-powered” school with no principal in the Natrona (WY) County Schools, she highlighted educational approaches from traditional public schools, home school groups, private schools and others as ways to “rethink” school.