Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.

School & District Management

Vast Majority of Americans Want Failing Schools Fixed, Not Closed, Poll Finds

By Andrew Ujifusa — August 29, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A new survey of public opinion about education has found that by a ratio of six to one, the American public wants schools that are falling down on the job to remain open instead of being closed.

Results of the annual Phi Delta Kappa International poll about K-12, released Monday, reported that 84 percent of Americans want officials to overhaul those struggling schools in some fashion, while just 14 percent say they prefer those schools to be shut down. However, the poll also found that doesn’t necessarily mean the public doesn’t want major changes at those schools.

The survey also found that nearly half of those surveyed gave their local public schools an A or B grade, but that fewer than one-quarter of respondents would give the same high marks to the nation’s public schools as a whole. Those figures are roughly consistent with the findings of another public-opinion poll about education released by the Education Next policy journal last week.

So on that question of schools that are falling down on the job: The PDK poll asked people about the popularity of closing them versus keeping them open, but then asked about the best strategies in each of those scenarios. Here’s what it found:

On that second question about keeping or replacing staff, it’s important to note that the option presented to respondents in which staff would be kept included sending more resources to that school. That boost in resources, however, didn’t make the “keep the same staff” option more popular than replacing the staff.

But on the question of closing failing schools versus keeping them open, an analysis from PDK accompanying the poll results states, “This finding, perhaps more than any other, exemplifies the divide between the reform agenda of the past 16 years and the actual desires of the American public. ... If decreased enrollment isn’t driving a school consolidation and closing effort, school system leaders and policy makers should pay heed to what the public actually wants regarding failing schools.”

Above, we mentioned that Education Next poll which asked a similar question about the grades the public would assign to local and national schools. Below you can find two charts comparing the results from that poll and the PDK survey:

Create column charts

Create column charts

And what are the trend lines for these two questions going back over four decades? The survey analysis has that information for you too:

For the survey 1,221 adults were interviewed in April and May of this year, including 305 parents of school-age children, 211 black respondents, and 219 Hispanics. It has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Follow us on Twitter at @PoliticsK12.

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Letter to the Editor School Mask Mandates: Pandemic, ‘Panicdemic,’ or Personal?
"A pandemic is based on facts. A 'panicdemic' is based on fears. Today, we have both," writes a professor.
1 min read
School & District Management How 'Vaccine Discrimination' Laws Make It Harder for Schools to Limit COVID Spread
In Montana and Ohio, the unvaccinated are a protected class, making it tough to track and contain outbreaks, school leaders say.
4 min read
Principal and District Superintendent Bonnie Lower takes the temperature of a student at Willow Creek School as the school reopened, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Willow Creek, Mont.
Bonnie Lower, a principal and district superintendent in Willow Creek, Mont., checks the temperature of a student as Willow Creek School reopened for in-person instruction in the spring.
Ryan Berry/Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP
School & District Management Opinion 'Futures Thinking' Can Help Schools Plan for the Next Pandemic
Rethinking the use of time and place for teachers and students, taking risks, and having a sound family-engagement plan also would help.
17 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
School & District Management Opinion The Consequence of Public-Health Officials Racing to Shutter Schools
Public-health officials' lack of concern for the risks of closing schools may shed light on Americans' reticence to embrace their directives.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty