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National PTA Reacts to PDK/Gallup Opinion Poll on the Nation's Public Schools

Media Contact:
Heidi May
Media Relations Manager
703-518-1242
hmay@pta.org

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Aug. 20, 2014) — Today, PDK and Gallup released the results from the 2014 Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. The findings demonstrate a clear need for an ongoing education effort around the Common Core State Standards and student assessment as well as a continued need for greater investments in education, which align with top priorities of National PTA to support and empower parents and ensure that all children have the opportunity to succeed.

According to the poll, 60% of Americans oppose requiring teachers to use the Common Core to guide what they teach, believing the standards limit the flexibility teachers have to teach what they think is best. Additionally, while most educators believe the Common Core State Standards are challenging, 40% of Americans disagree, saying the standards are not challenging enough. Most Americans indicated in the poll that they first heard about the Common Core from television, newspapers and radio; far smaller percentages said they learned about the standards through school communications, such as websites or newsletters or from teachers and other education professionals.

“The Common Core State Standards increase rigor in every school, are internationally benchmarked and relevant to the real world, and reflect the knowledge and skills students need to compete globally and excel in their studies and the workplace. National PTA is confident that the standards are a significant improvement over previous state standards and an essential tool to ensure every child receives a high quality education that prepares him or her for success upon graduation from high school,” said Otha Thornton, president of National PTA. “Although Americans differ in their views about the Common Core, National PTA remains committed to working closely with educators, administrators, policymakers and other stakeholders to provide complete and accurate information about the standards, increase understanding of the standards and new assessments, and support families and communities every step of the way as the Common Core are implemented in classrooms across the country.”

In addition to opposing the use of the Common Core State Standards, 54% of Americans polled said that standardized tests aren’t helpful to teachers. Parents feel even more strongly about this.

This year’s poll participants again identified lack of financial support as the biggest problem facing public schools in America. This has led the list of challenges since 2002. Other challenges most often mentioned by respondents include concerns about curriculum standards, student discipline, and getting and keeping good teachers.

Despite their concerns, 50% of Americans surveyed gave the schools in their communities either an A or B grade. These grades have remained consistent over the last few years. On the other hand, Americans gave the nation’s schools significantly lower grades, with more than 80% assigning them a C or lower grade.

“It is a top priority of National PTA to work with the Administration and Congress and continue to advocate for greater financial support for education,” added Thornton. “Education is a vital investment in our children, families, communities and nation, and the findings of this year’s poll show there is still plenty of work to be done to ensure that every child has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.”

About National PTA

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c) (3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth.