Boards, Parents Seen as Powerful

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In the view of American voters, students and teachers are most responsible for the success—and failure—of individual pupils. But school boards and parents have the most power to change the public schools.

Those are among the findings from "Accountability for All: What Voters Want From Education Candidates," a survey commissioned by the Public Education Network and Education Week and released in April. In this week's "Close Up" look at the poll, the subject at hand is responsibility for schools. Thirty percent of the 800 voters who took part in the poll said individual students themselves were most responsible when they failed. They rated teachers second, at 19 percent, and parents third, at 12 percent.

When asked who is most responsible for "ensuring quality public schools," 49 percent named school boards, and 45 percent chose parents of children in public schools. Governors and the president tied for third place, at 29 percent each. But minority respondents gave higher ratings to the influence of the president: Forty-two percent of the black voters said the president was responsible, compared with 27 percent of the white voters.

Separately, 41 percent of the respondents said school boards have the most power to improve education, while 39 percent chose parents as the most influential group.

The poll, conducted in January, has a margin of error of 3 percentage points. ("Poll: Public Sees Schools As a Priority," April 24, 2002.)

—Mary-Ellen Phelps Deily

"Accountability for All: What Voters Want From Education Candidates" is available from the Public Education Network.

School Quality: Responsibility vs. Power

Poll respondents said school boards and parents have the most responsibility for schools and the most power to improve them.

Those most responsible for ensuring high-quality schools

Those with the most power to improve education

1. School Board (49%) 1. School board (41%)
2. Parents (45%) 2. Parents (39%)
3. President (29%) 3. President (31%)
4. Governor (29%) 4. Governor (29%)
5. You, personally (25%) 5. Community (22%)
6. Community (23%) 6. U.S. senator or member of Congress (21%)
7. U.S. senator or member
of Congress (22%)
7. State representative (21%)
8. Mayor (20%) 8. You personally (19%)
9. State representative (19%) 9. Mayor (18%)
10. Local businesses (11%) 10. Local businesses (11%)

Note: Percentage in parentheses refer to the percentages of poll respondents who selected each category.

SOURCE: "Accountability for All: What Voters Want From Education Candidates"

Vol. 21, Issue 39, Page 5

Published in Print: June 5, 2002, as Boards, Parents Seen as Powerful
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