Most parents with children in public schools do not support recent changes in education policy, from closing low-performing schools to shifting public dollars to charter schools to private school vouchers, according to a new poll to be released Monday by the American Federation of Teachers.
The poll, conducted by Democratic polling firm Hart Research Associates, surveyed 1,000 parents this month and found that most would rather see their neighborhood schools strengthened and given more resources than have options to enroll their children elsewhere.
AFT President Randi Weingarten is expected to highlight the poll’s findings during a speech Monday at the union’s annual meeting in Washington. The AFT is the nation’s second-largest teachers union and represents school employees in most of the major urban school districts.
In the speech, Weingarten will call for a reinvestment in public schools and say that education reform hasn’t worked and isn’t what parents want. “Decades of top-down edicts, mass school closures, privatization and test fixation with sanctions, instead of support, haven’t moved the needle — not in the right direction, at least,” Weingarten says in remarks from the speech provided to The Washington Post. “You’ve heard their refrain: competition, closings, choice. Underlying that is a belief that disruption is good and stability is bad.”
It seems that Ms. Weingarten is feeling some pressure from her membership rank and file and is paying some lip service to fighting back against the deform agenda.
But make no mistake, Weingarten doesn't really believe what she's saying - in her time at both the UFT and the AFT, she has helped bring about many of the ed deform policies she now claims to decry.
Still, it's good to see some of the results in this poll:
Sixty-one percent of parents polled said they were opposed to closing low-performing schools and reassigning students to a different school, while roughly one-third approved of the policy. The poll had a margin of error of 3.1 percent.
When it comes to traditional public schools, more than three out of every four parents surveyed said they were opposed to reducing compensation for teachers or cutting resources for the classroom while increasing spending on charter schools.
More than half the parents polled, or 58 percent, said they did not approve of officials lengthening the school day, but more than one-third thought it was a good idea. While 56 percent are opposed to giving tax dollars to families to pay for private school tuition, 41 percent approved.
On the issue of standardized tests, a majority of parents surveyed said that too much learning in the classroom has been sacrificed in order to accommodate state tests during the school year. A majority of parents reported that their children have been anxious about those tests. Pockets of resistance to standardized testing have been popping up across the country, with students in Seattle, Pittsburgh and elsewhere opting out of tests this spring in protest.
If only the union leadership at the AFT, the NEA, the NYSUT and the UFT would actually fight for the progressive education agenda that parents, students and teachers want rather than trying to sell us on the wonders of the Common Core and the tests ted to those new standards.
Alas, they have not.
Still, it is good to see that many parents are not on board with the deform agenda.