I just read a post by Steve Hinnefeld reporting on recent polling about attitudes about schools. While attitudes about schools in the abstract are very negative, people like the schools where they send their own kids.
In the recent Gallup poll, 76% of parents said they were very or somewhat satisfied with the school attended by their oldest child. But, among all respondents, only 36% were satisfied with the nation’s schools, tying the all-time low. That’s a huge gap: 40 percentage points.
Gallup has been polling about education since 1999, and the divide between parents and others has been a consistent finding. Most parents have always given high marks to their own children’s schools, but they tend to be more skeptical of the nation’s schools. People with no direct experience with schools are the most likely to give America’s schools low grades.
I don’t know exactly what that says when real-world experience with a thing is largely positive while thinking about the same thing in the abstract ends up being significantly more negative. I suppose that means that a lot of fiction about schools is being thrown at people which persuades them until they actually find themselves dealing with the objective reality. For those Lord of the Rings fans out there, I have the image of Gríma Wormtongue whispering into the ear of Theoden; turning him into a bitter, decrepit old man who sits around inside all day. This, in turn, poisons the atmosphere of Rohan and saps its strength.
So, I don’t know, maybe turn off the cable news, get outside and go find a way to volunteer with your local school system.