Friday, May 05, 2006

CA: PPIC education survey leaves out asking about NCLB

Stayed up late last night to go through the pdf of the latest PPIC education poll. Why? Cuz I don't always trust the report summaries nor the media articles.

Couple things pop out at me:
1. Californians aren't happy with the quality of public education in CA, more so in the last few years. Interesting but no direct mentions of NCLB, that revolutionary legislation designed to permanently alter public education. So it's really hard to say why Californians are unhappy with public ed because the way PPIC wrote the questions, you can't tell whether NCLB is a factor. Note: there are indirect mentions of NCLB policy, which is not quite the same thing.

Another interesting result: Californians don't believe the quality of education has improved in the last few years. Again, no mention of NCLB in the PPIC report or in the questions. It's almost as if PPIC has a blind spot when it comes to NCLB.

2. Californians believe more money will help the schools but don't want to spend more of their own money on public education, at least from property taxes and sales taxes (though there is more willingness to tax the wealthiest Californians).

I think this reveals a really interesting disconnect. I think it partially stems from a very basic lack of information. Most parents I meet don't know much about how public education is financed, where the money comes from (we have quite a bit of funding coming to us locally), which programs are financed by the schools (we have many financed by the PTA). This is not surprising and understandable: it's not that easy to access this info and, besides, no one puts out this info with clarity. In the meantime, it seems the conservative propaganda machine does put their message out with clarity (as well as being not easily identifiable as a conservative agenda meme): teachers make too much money, we need better quality teachers, charter schools are better, schools are inefficient with their money, teachers' unions are bad. End result: in general, there is a lack of trust when it comes to funding and public schools.

3. Californians think art and music is an important as part of the public school curriculum. Again, here's where NCLB is making an impact but no questions asked.

Summary of results over at the PPIC site and by the Los Angeles Times.