Education analysts often compare U.S. schools to those in Finland, Korea, Poland, even Shanghai. Surprisingly, the nation of Germany rarely appears in this discourse, even though it has much in common with the United States. Each of the two nations is the largest democracy, with the biggest economy, on its continent. And each has a diverse population, strong unions, a federal system of government, demand for a skilled workforce, and a school system that in 2000 was badly in need of reform.
Americans have generally wanted much the same things taught in their public schools. Elementary students should learn three “R’s”—reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. In high school, it’s time to prepare for college or a career by studying core subjects, such as English, history, algebra, biology, and a foreign language. That basic understanding has not prevented political spats over school spending and school attendance boundaries. But the core operations of schools have usually been left undisturbed.
n 2014 the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice, acting together, sent every school district a letter asking local officials to avoid racial bias when suspending or expelling students.
Two major public opinion polls have just been released. First, Education Next (EdNext) released its ninth annual survey of over 4,083 respondents, which is administered by Knowledge Networks. (Along with Michael Henderson, we are responsible for the design and analysis of this survey.) Shortly thereafter, Phi Delta Kappan (PDK) released its own survey of 3,499 respondents, which is administered by Gallup.
Earlier this week, my colleagues and I reported, as part of the 2015 Education Next survey of public opinion, that the level of support for the Common Core had slipped over the past two years from about two thirds to about half of the public. Yet opponents still number only about a third of the public, with the rest offering no opinion one way or the other.
Testing and accountability have become a focal point of the congressional debate over the new federal education bill designed to replace No Child Left Behind (NCLB), originally scheduled to expire in 2007. The Senate and the House have each passed a bill revising the law, but disagreement persists on a key testing provision.
An ancient Armenian King, Tigranes the Great, when told Roman General Lucius Lucullus and his army were en route to Armenia, had the messenger beheaded. Unfortunately, that made it difficult for Tigranes to gather any further intelligence, Plutarch tells us.
‘Th’ Supreme Coort follows th’ election returns.” So said Mr. Dooley, the bartender created by cartoonist Finley Peter Dunne at the start of the 20th century. Those who follow the court today often say that nothing much has changed. Yet if the justices consider public opinion next term, it will be a straightforward decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case challenging the California “union shop” law that levies an agency fee on all teachers who refuse to join a union.
This article is part of a new Education Next series on the state of the American family. The full series will appear in our Spring 2015 issue to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 release of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action” (generally referred to as the Moynihan Report).