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'Community Support' Tops List of Public Education 'Pluses'

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What's the #1 "good thing" about public education?

Its support from the community.

So says Patte Barth, director of the National School Board Association's Center for Public Education, in an opinion piece she recently wrote for the American School Board Journal.

Her article, "10 Good Things about Public Education," cites the statistic that today—as has been the case for the past four decades—approximately nine out of 10 school-aged children attend public school.

While public opinion about public education is on the decline, communities tend to view their local schools more favorably, according to Barth.

"In 2011, only 17 percent of Americans told Gallup pollsters that they would grade American public education as an A or B. In contrast, 51 percent would give an A or B to their local schools. Parents were the most satisfied, 79 percent of whom gave their child's public school these high grades. When asked to explain the discrepancy, respondents cited familiarity and local pride," she wrote.

While public schools clearly have challenges, "the supportive involvement of the community—from one district to the next—is our strongest guarantee that the challenge will be met," she writes.

Barth's top 10 good things about public education, by the way, are:

  1. Community support

  2. Mathematics

  3. High school graduation rates

  4. High-quality prekindergarten

  5. High-level high school courses

  6. Monumental laws (the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)

  7. English-language learners

  8. Civics

  9. Beginning reading

  10. A tradition of universal education

Do you agree that "community support" is one of the best things public education has to its credit? What's your experience of community involvement in your locale?

(Note: To download the full article, use this link.)

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