National News Roundup

November 20, 1991 2 min read

More than three-quarters of American parents are totally unaware of the six national education goals adopted last year by President Bush and the National Governors’ Association, a survey released last week shows.

The telephone survey, sponsored by the National PTA and the Chrysler Corporation and commissioned by Newsweek magazine, polled 792 parents of school-age children in the continental United States in May and June. The results appear in an advertising supplement to the magazine’s Nov. 18 edition.

The results showed that just 24 percent of those surveyed said they were aware of the goals, and only 7 percent could correctly recall without prompting even one of the goals, the report said.

Moreover, many parents did not believe that the goals for the year 2000 were attainable, the poll found. The only goal that a majority--62 percent@of parents said was attainable was that students will leave grades 4, 8, and 12 having passed tests showing competency in such subjects as English, mathematics, and science.

The goal that parents expressed the least faith in was that of making every school free of drugs and violence. Just 4 percent of parents thought that was attainable.

School financing appears to be a murky issue for some parents. When asked who currently pays the greatest part of the budget for the local public schools, 14 percent said they had no idea.

But 46 percent of parents wanted to see more funding for schools, and 61 percent said they were willing to pay more taxes, regardless of their income level, to improve public schools, the survey found.

While growing numbers of companies are stepping up their efforts to help employees balance “the dual stresses of work and home life,” more than 75 percent of the largest firms have not advanced beyond child-care referral services or flexible spending accounts to help parents manage child-care costs, a new survey shows.

With funding from the Ford Foundation, the Families and Work Institute, a New York-based research organization, surveyed the largest Fortune 1,000 companies in 30 industry areas to determine “the response from corporate America to the work-family needs of individuals and companies.” The results are included in a 437-page reference guide that draws on more than 30 research projects assessing work and family needs and policies.

Besides describing the stages of development firms typically undertake when developing family policies, the guide offers an index to assess companies’ “family-friendliness"; a comparative analysis of 188 companies and charts, by industry, detailing their family policies; a review of work-family research; and a list of 76 exemplary programs and policies.

The four companies ranked highest on the group’s “family-friendly index” are Johnson & Johnson, the International Business Machines Corporation, Aetna Life & Casualty Company, and Corning Inc., all of which offer services ranging from on-site child care to job sharing.

Factors cited in the guide as contributing to successful family policies include good overall economic health or a perceived threat to that health, a high level of expertise in defining employee needs and managing programs, long-term strategic thinking and planning, and well-respected “employee champions” of family policies.

Copies of “The Corporate Reference Guide to Work- Family Programs” are available for $179 each for hardcover and $149 for softcover, with a 10 percent discount for nonprofit groups. Write the Families and Work Institute, 330 Seventh Ave., New York, N.Y. 10001

A version of this article appeared in the November 20, 1991 edition of Education Week as National News Roundup