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Guess who is happy with America’s schools? Almost 80 percent of parents

… fights occur because of those who have no “skin in the game"

From what people read and see in the contemporary media, most Americans would think that everyone is upset about public and private education.

However, according to research conducted with parents of students in schools, that is not the case. Granted, some parents are always going to question a teacher’s grades and other things. That does not mean that they are unhappy with their children’s schools.

That is good to hear.

Eighty percent like their children’s schools

Some studies about the parents’ reactions have given me pause since that is news that I like to hear,

Tucked into a New Yorker article by Jill Lepore about the spate of school board fights over just about everything was a statistic that caught my eye.

Despite all the ink spilled lately about clashes over masking, critical race theory and which books to assign (or ban), American parents are happy overall with their children’s education. Lepore explains:

In “Making Up Our Mind: What School Choice Is Really About,” the education scholars Sigal R. Ben-Porath and Michael C. Johanek point out that about nine in 10 children in the United States attend public school, and the overwhelming majority of parents — about eight in 10 — are happy with their kids’ schools.

Jessica Grose, “Who’s unhappy with schools? The answer

surprised me,” New York Times, March 19, 2022

I am going to delve into Lepore’s analysis later, but some were surprised that the numbers of parental satisfaction were that high.

Gallup satisfaction numbers

The truth is that many parents are concerned about the lost education year or so that was due to the pandemic. However, they actually do not blame the schools,

But according to Gallup, which has tracked school satisfaction annually since 1999, in 2021, “73 percent of parents of school-aged children say they are satisfied with the quality of education their oldest child is receiving.”

More parents were satisfied in 2021 than they were in 2013 and 2002, when satisfaction dipped into the 60s, and in 2019, we were at a high point in satisfaction — 82 percent — before the Covid pandemic dealt schools a major blow.

My hypothesis is that it’s a bit like the adage about Congress: People tend to like their own representatives (that’s why they keep sending them back year after year) but tend to have a dim view of Congress overall.

Jessica Grose, New York Times, March 19, 2022

If that is true, what is driving the media narrative about schools?

Well, while parents are satisfied with their children’s school, the crazies are not.

The Crazies

First, I dare anyone in America to point out a school district that is teaching the infamous Critical Race Theory. I am an educated, well-read person who follows the news and works with students from across the country. I personally never heard of this until the culture warriors made a big deal about it.

That is a farce. No one has it in their curriculum. Period.

Yet, the crazies make believe that this is denigrating America.

What about the book bans. Again, the crazies, but this is rooted a little more in history going back a century or so.

Here are the people driving this narrative,

Polling done by the Charles Butt Foundation shows a similar dynamic playing out in Texas, a state where book bans have been well publicized and an anti-critical race theory bill was signed into law in December. The third annual poll, which was of 1,154 Texas adults, found:

The share of public school parents giving their local public schools an A or B grade is up 12 percentage points in two years to 68 percent in the latest statewide survey on public education by the Charles Butt Foundation.

In contrast with the increase among parents, there’s a decline in school ratings among those without a child currently enrolled in K-12 schools. Forty-eight percent of nonparents now give their local public schools A’s and B's, versus 56 percent a year ago.

Jessica Grose, New York Times, March 19, 2022

This goes back to the 1920s with the Scopes trial, but I am going to focus on that later. The reality there is that the behavior of people in America today is reflecting that indeed Darwin was right: We descended from apes — and many did not evolve at all.

Conclusion: Schools are teaching students well

The problem is that many schools do have problems, but they are not because of the reasons that the culture warriors complain about today.

Grose’s conclusion in her “On Parenting” column is this: While things are not necessarily

Humming along smoothly ... it does mean that we should take stories with a grain of salt when they present the American education system as a fact-free zone, no longer focused on teaching the basics, that parents are or should be fleeing from in any significant or sustained way.

As the Gallup polling also showed, home-schooling is back to its prepandemic rate of 4 percent, and data from the National Center for Education Statistics found that by far the steepest drops in public school enrollment during the 2020-21 school year were among children in pre-K or kindergarten. These kids likely will not be away from public schools permanently; their start was merely delayed.

All of this at least raises the question of whether some of the people driving the outrage, even animus, against schools might not have much skin in the game and might not have any recent experience with teachers or curriculum. As we head into the midterms, at the very least we should resist easy conclusions about who is angry about what’s happening in our public schools and whether it has anything to do with the reality of what’s going on day to day for millions of children and their families.

Jessica Grose, New York Times, March 19, 2022

A very good analysis.

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