Phi Delta Kappa is an international organization for professional educators. The organization's mission is to promote quality education, with particular emphasis on publicly supported education, as essential to the development and maintenance of a democratic way of life. Each year Phi Delta Kappa conducts a Gallop Poll to see the publics view toward Public Schools. The poll tackles many different issues that are important in their own way, but the ones that interest me the, favoring or opposing a voucher system, zero tolerance polices, and school standards.
One of the most controversial issues in the gallup poll is the usage of vouchers as a means of improving the quality of the public schools. It is suggested that doing so will promote competition between public and private schools and that competition will bring about improvement in the public schools. Opponents of the voucher plan believe that being able to use vouchers for religious schools will violate the separation of church and state established by the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. In addition, parents might be forced to send their children to a school of a different religion because no other schools are available.
The result of the poll show that 47% favor vouchers, 48% oppose them and 5% don"t know. I am surprised that so many people support vouchers when there is no proof that private schools improve students academic achievement. Competition between public and private schools could affect the salaries of presevice teachers and whether or not a teacher can be hired in private schools because of their religion. The best public policy is to provide parents with even more choices within the public schools, which serve over 90% of children.
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Legislators should concentrate on making all public schools stronger, safer, more challenging, and accountable. Public tax dollars should be spent only to improve public schools - not to assist the limited numbers of parents who choose to enroll their children in private secular or religious schools. Concern over school crime and violence has also become a huge issue. It has prompted many public schools to take various measures to reduce and prevent drugs and violence and to ensure safety in schools. Such measures include adopting zero tolerance policies.
The zero tolerance policies enact mandatory expulsion for violent or drug-related student misconduct. This forces preservice teachers to change the disciplinary structure of the classroom. The poll shows that 90% of the people favor zero tolerance and 10% oppose it. I feel that zero tolerance, as explained in the reading, is a fantastic thing. But when hearing about students suspended for having aspirin or even cough drops, leaves me to wonder whether zero tolerance policies are achieving their designated purpose. The response to zero tolerance by school districts is getting out of hand.
Schools need to make sure that their focus is not on blind enforcement of a rule but on actively working to detect warning signs, counsel students and punish those involved with real drugs or weapons. A third critical issue is school standards. Achievement standards in the classroom is a very important thing. 57% of people think that the standards are about right and 33% think they are too low. Another issue about standards is social promotion.
Social promotion means moving children from grade to grade in order to keep them with others in their age group. 2 % favored stricter standards for social promotion and 26% opposed. I agree with the majority in both these cases. School standard are about right but it is important for preservice teachers to know and keep up with the standards. It is also important for teachers to have stricter standards for social promotion even if more students are held back. It isn"t fair to send a slacking students to the next grade to another teacher that has to re-teach the curriculum of the previous grade just for a student to two. My view on vouchers is pretty clear.
People who support them believe that it will improve public school because of competition. Competition is based on an even playing field; there is no fair competition when "competitors" play by different rules. Public schools have to accept all applicants; private schools don"t. Private schools are not required to provide transportation, special education, bilingual education, free and reduced lunches, and many other programs that public schools provide. I agree with zero tolerance but they are taking it too far.
I can also understand the schools' rationale for zero tolerance. They are concerned about student safety and want to project the image that they are being tough on drugs and violence, but use some common sense. When it comes to the standards of student achievement I agree with the majority of the people polled, but many of the issues of the Phi Delta Kappa Gallup Poll I disagreed with because I feel that the people being polled are uneducated in the subject and don"t know how their opinion can affect schools.
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