kitchen table math, the sequel: what do you make of this?

Monday, February 28, 2011

what do you make of this?

Rasmussen polls from 2005 and 2011:

In 2005:
"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


Catherine said...

Those three options were all? Whatever happened to 21st century education options? We now have online learning with part-time support programs, charter schools (public schools, yes, but not in the minds of many), and part-time enrollment in public schools by homeschoolers. Honestly, how can we develop 21st century skills when we only recognize the existence of 20th century institutions? ;)

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much of this is people rationalizing what they feel they need to do? If you pull your kid out of a private school because of financial reasons you might be inclined to decide that public schooling "isn't that bad ... in fact, *OUR* public schools are pretty good."

I'd like to see if this tracks the general state of the economy. More specifically, do people feel better about public schooling during economic downturns?

-Mark Roulo

Catherine Johnson said...

oh - interesting

I hadn't thought of that.

That possibility takes into account the crash & recession, doesn't it?

It seems odd to me that opinion would shift by 10 points in 5 years, unless the shift is an artifact of the survey, which of course it could be. Still and all, Rasmussen seems to be pretty reliable.

The big event dividing 2005 from 2011 is the recession.

Catherine Johnson said...

For what it's worth, I think most people prefer to think what they're doing is the best choice, regardless of the reasons that drove them to do it.

"It's all for the best."

I usually think that way.

In fact, I usually try to think that way - !