For Immediate Release July 22, 2013
Statement by Ted Kirsch
Nationwide poll shows parents want strong neighborhood schools
“For more than a decade, corporate reformers and politicians have tried to sell parents a bill of goods when it comes to public education. It turns out that parents aren’t buying what they are selling. Parents don’t want politicians to cut spending for public schools. They don’t want their neighborhood schools closed. They don’t want their tax dollars diverted for school choice.
“In a national survey by the American Federation of Teachers, 77 percent of parents said they want well-funded, safe neighborhood schools, with small classes and experienced, qualified educators. The overwhelming majority want their neighborhood school to be the hub of their community – offering programming for both children and families. Nearly 60 percent of parents said there is entirely too much standardized testing, which causes children needless anxiety, takes away from learning and doesn’t accurately measure knowledge. In spite of what politicians and corporate reformers want the public to believe, most parents don’t want the salaries or benefits of teachers and school employees cut. Four out of five parents believe that teachers have the right ideas on how to improve schools, while only a third believe that politicians or corporate executives have the right ideas. By a 2-1 margin, parents want elected officials stop fighting with teachers unions and work with them to support effective teaching and great schools.
“For the past 15 years, American’s have been led down the wrong road by politicians, hedge fund managers and other corporate reformers. It’s time for politicians to either make a sharp U-turn and steer education policies in the direction parents want or move over and put parents, teachers, students and community leaders in the driver’s seat so they can reclaim the promise of public education by funding public schools adequately and providing the support struggling schools need to improve.”
Ted Kirsch is president of AFT Pennsylvania, which represents 36,000 public, private and charter school teachers and staff; college and university professors, instructors, graduate student employees and staff; and state employees in Pennsylvania. The American Federation of Teachers is meeting in Washington, D.C,. this week for its biennial AFT Teach Conference. The Washington Post reported on the AFT’s national survey Sunday.