"a plurality of Americans (42%) continues to believe that public schools provide the best education for children. Nearly as many, 39%, say private schools are best while 11% say home schooling is the top approach."In 2010:
Fifty percent (50%) of all adults believe public school education is generally better for students than private schools and home schooling. Thirty-five percent (35%) think private school is a better option. Eight percent (8%) prefer schooling in the home.At the same time:
"(61%), however, say public school education has become worse over the past 10 years, a view virtually unchanged from May 2008."Public schools up, private schools down, but people believe public school quality has declined "in recent years."
I don't know whether the questions were phrased differently.
Sixty-two percent of the public thinks public schools are a good investment for taxpayers. I think that's because most people don't know what the schools are spending or what the rate of increase has been over the past decades:
The amount of money actually spent annually on children in school districts across the United States varies widely. For the districts in which our sample members live, per-pupil spending in 2004–05 ranged from $5,644 to $24,939,with an average of $10,377. This last figure is slightly higher than the true national average of $9,435.
How well informed is the public about these financial commitments? Not very. Among those asked without the prompt listing possible expenses, the median response was $2,000, or less than 20 percent of the true amount being spent in their districts. Over 90 percent of the public offered an amount less than the amount actually spent in their district, and more than 40 percent of the sample claimed that annual spending was $1,000 per pupil or less. The average estimate of $4,231 reflects the influence of a small percentage of individuals who offered extremely high figures. Even so, the average respondent’s estimate was just 42 percent of actual spending levels in their district (see Figure 1).
On average, Americans underestimated teacher salaries in their states by 30 percent.
Is the Price Right?
By William Howell and Martin West
Summer 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 3