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Public Confidence In Schools Linked To Broader Issues

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Americans' dissatisfaction with the public schools may reflect a broad and general dissatisfaction with government and authority, suggests a Stanford University researcher.

"The decline of public confidence in education is but a reflection of a much more encompassing and pervasive erosion of confidence in public authority and public institutions," says Hans Weiler of the university's Institute for Research on Educational Finance and Governance.

"And this general erosion may well 'spill over' into the realm of attitudes toward specific institutions which, like schools, are sponsored and sustained by public authority," Mr. Weiler adds.

In a series of opinion polls he conducted, Mr. Weiler found that the proportion of Americans expressing trust in their government has declined from 58 percent in 1958 to 19 percent in 1978.

Public education, the researcher argues, is an especially likely candidate for sharing the state's credibility and reliability problems.

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