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What Do Parents Really Think About Math and Science Ed?

Some new polling data is out that seeks to better gauge how Americans generally, and parents of school-age children in particular, view math and science education.

Here are some quick tidbits from the parents:

•About half (52 percent) say their local schools are doing a good job of preparing students for college-level math. For science, it was exactly 50 percent.
•About half (52 percent) say their children are getting about the right amount of math and science instruction in school.
•80 percent believe that math and science ability is something kids can learn in school and develop with experience, rather than being innate.
•Almost two-thirds (65 percent) say students should focus on reading, writing, and math in elementary school, and save science for later grades.

And for Americans overall in the survey:

•More than 80 percent believe that "establishing a national curriculum in science" will improve math and science education in local schools, with 50 percent saying "a lot" and 31 percent "a little."
•Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) agree that it's more important for students to graduate high school with strong reading and writing skills than math and science skills. Thirty-eight percent "strongly agreed," and 26 percent "somewhat agreed."
•Only three in 10 Americans see a demand for math- and science-focused jobs in the current economy, but 84 percent agree that in the future there will be a lot more jobs requiring those skills.

I'll close with one last item suggesting that reducing class size is a high priority for Americans.

Here's the question: "Suppose your community got extra money to spend on its schools and you were asked to help decide how to spend that money. Would you prefer the money go toward ...

•Reducing class size (33 percent)
•Making preschool available to all children (15 percent)
•Improving math and science education (27 percent)
•Paying teachers more (20 percent)
•Don't know (5 percent)

There's lots more data to scrutinize in this new survey, which was conducted by Public Agenda and sponsored by the G.E. Foundation.

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