Education Letter to the Editor

A Core Problem: Parents Get What They Want

October 16, 2007 1 min read

To the Editor:

Your Sept. 26, 2007, issue contains an interesting pairing of articles. According to “Parents Less Worried Than Experts Over Math, Science,” 70 percent of parents polled in Missouri and Kansas think that their kids receive adequate science and math education. And “School Boards’ Effect on Student Learning Gets New Attention” reports that scholars are researching (at long last) public school boards’ impact on what children learn.

Together, the two articles confirm a core problem for public education in the United States: Parents get what they apparently want. Parents elect school board members, at least in Missouri and Kansas, to maintain public education at the lowest “uncommon” denominator. What a tragedy for kids in those two states.

As a lawyer who has long worked with charter schools (invented in Minnesota), I believe that polling my clients’ boards and the students’ parents almost certainly would have produced just the opposite outcome to such inquiries.

John A. Cairns

Minneapolis, Minn.

A version of this article appeared in the October 17, 2007 edition of Education Week as A Core Problem: Parents Get What They Want