I have evaluated and examined both public and private education instittutional systems.
Public schools are in crisis, and not because of any shortages of public funds (more money is spent on public education than ever before, but with declining results). Many people like to think the problem with our schools is precisely that they are public: "Government schools" are run like the rest of the government, poorly and inefficiently. Teachers are not primarily to blame, because they are also victims of bad conditions of schools and their profession. The solution is to get government out of the business of education and to run education in a more businesslike way. However, education is not a business like other businesses; it does not turn out a product whose value can be expressed adequately in terms of market price. Education does impart business or workplace skills, of course, but the value of reading and writing well cannot be captured fully by a future salary. The love of learning and growing as a student mentally is what shapes each individual's identity in public life. Before much progress can be made, Americans will have to be persuaded that public schools are a public failure -- that they are turning out not just poorly educated students but bad or indifferent citizens. However statistics show that Americans have confidence in public education. In 1997 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools was the first in which an effort was made to determine whether the public wants to place its confidence in the public schools or to start looking for an alternative system. In that poll, the public clearly indicated its preference for the public schools.. The results clearly affirm the public's belief that our national commitment to educating all our children through the public schools should be maintained. 71% of Americans indicate that the focus in education should be on reforming the existing system. This compares to 27% opting for finding an alternative system such as private schools. When presented with the specific choice of improving the existing public schools or providing vouchers for parents to use in selecting and paying for private and/or church-related schools, 70% opt for improving the existing public schools, while only 28% choose a voucher plan. The public's preference for the public schools would seem to be related to its positive assessment of those schools. Although respondents continued to desire improvement, they are generally pleased with their schools. Forty-nine percent assigned the public schools in the community a grade of A or B.
Problems facing the public schools. The general satisfaction with the public schools should not cause one to lose sight of the fact that the public wants those schools improved. It would be logical for such improvement to focus on areas in which problems exist. Down through the years, the public has been consistent in the area which shows lack of discipline. Other points of either drug abuse, lack of financial support, or lack of discipline has topped the list. This year, lack of discipline is identified as the top problem. Fighting/violence/gangs follows at high on the list and lack of financial support/funding/money is also an issue. Teachers and classroom sizes are recognized as a ongoing problem in public education.
Improvement strategies. How would the public improve its schools? The public continues to support zero tolerance policies with regard to drugs and alcohol Many people believe that violation of these policies should lead to automatic suspension. Smaller classrooms sizes and more teachers with better training...