Almost half of Americans believe that “dramatic changes” would be necessary to bail a school district out of a serious budget deficit, according to a new survey from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
On the whole, “Americans are pretty sensible about how to slim down public education,” wrote institute president Chester E. Finn, Jr. and vice president for research Amber M. Winkler in the report.
Conducted to figure out the best way to patch up the public education system in the U.S., researchers interviewed 1,009 randomly selected adults across the nation.
Findings show that the public is aware of the serious economic crisis and the problematic consequences for public schools. About 77 percent said they expected the financial challenges to last for quite a while.
More than six out of 10 people approve of cost-cutting measures such as cutting district-level administrators, closing schools with low enrollment, freezing salaries and merging small districts.
Most of the public rejected shortening the school year, requiring unpaid vacation days or reducing non-teaching staff such as school nurses and librarians “to the bare minimum.”
Similarly, Americans surveyed had clear opinions about protecting teachers. About three-fourths of respondents said they believe teachers with poor performance should be laid off first and “those with excellent performance protected” rather than have new teachers fired to protect veterans. By a similar margin, subjects supported bigger classes taught by the “best performing teachers” rather than smaller classes taught by “randomly chosen teachers.”
“The big challenge is turning those sound views into prudent yet forceful action,” Finn and Winkler wrote. “Public sentiment alone doesn’t shed the budgetary pounds. There’s lot of hard work ahead, many calories to be burned, much strength and endurance to be mustered.”
What do you think should be done to fix the public school system? Let us know in the comments.
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Kelly Zhou hails from the Bay Area and is currently a student in Los Angeles. She has written on a variety of topics, predominantly focusing on politics and education. Email Kelly | @kelllyzhou | TakePart.com