Trump’s Education Pick: A Win for Public-School Parents
When Donald Trump selected an advocate for school choice, Betsy DeVos, to be Secretary of Education, he was acknowledging what many parents have noticed for some time: District-run public schools aren’t educating students well.
Earlier this month the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) revealed that the performance of U.S. 15-year-olds on its Programme for International Student Assessment in math fell 18 points between 2009 and 2015. As the Obama administration was carrying out its main education initiative, “Race to the Top,” the United States was sliding further downward, falling from a tie for 26th place to a tie for 31st among the OECD’s 35 nations, coming out ahead of only Greece, Chile, Turkey and Mexico.
The news does not come as a surprise to American parents. My colleagues and I at Harvard University have uncovered a major discrepancy between the satisfaction levels of parents with children at public schools and those with children at private and charter schools as part of the 2016 Education Next survey, which is administered annually to a nationally representative sample of Americans.
Three-fourths or more of all parents with children in charter, public or private schools say they are either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the schools. But the percentages of parents who say they are “very satisfied” differ markedly across the three sectors.
According to our survey, 46% of private-school parents say they are “very satisfied” with the quality of their child’s teachers, and 32% of charter-school parents are equally enthusiastic, but only 23% of parents with students in public schools report that they are as satisfied. On the topic of schools instructing students in “character or values,” 59% of private-school parents report high satisfaction and 38% of charter parents, but only 21% of those sending their children to public schools do. Regarding school discipline, 46% of private-school parents are highly satisfied, 34% of charter-school parents and 17% in public schools. Questions about safety and expectations for students yield similar results.
Using an online survey, we were able to look at a representative cross-section of parents in the United States consisting of 774 individual parents with children in public schools, 426 in private schools and 317 in charter schools…
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