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AMERICANS SPEAK ON PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING: Majority of Americans Say Schools in Poor Neighborhoods Are Either Inadequate or in Crisis

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"People feel strongly that there's a real problem in terms of quality in low-income areas."

A majority of Americans recognize that there are significant differences in the quality of schools in high- and low-income areas, and they worry about an overreliance on property taxes as a way to fund schools, according to a national survey released by the Educational Testing Service. A full 60 percent of poll respondents believe schools in poor neighborhoods are either inadequate or in crisis. These findings were taken from Equity and Adequacy: Americans Speak on Public School Funding, the fourth annual public opinion poll conducted by Democratic pollster Peter Hart and the late Republican pollster Robert Teeter.

At a June 30 press conference, Allan Rivlin, senior vice president for Hart-Teeter Research, said that people from all economic backgrounds have a concern for schools in low-income areas at least as great as their concerns about schools in their own backyards. “People feel strongly that there’s a real problem in terms of quality in low-income areas,” he said. In fact, 65 percent of respondents said they believed it is appropriate to allocate tax revenues raised in other areas to schools in low-income areas.

The poll found that nearly half of all Americans (45 percent) feel that schools need dramatic improvements, with 30 percent calling for major changes and 15 percent favoring a complete overhaul. However, it also found mistrust among much of the public of education spending, with 76 percent of all respondents, and 74 percent of those identifying themselves as parents, believing that at least a “fair amount” of taxpayer money was being wasted on K-12 education. Perhaps due to this mistrust, a majority of respondents were unwilling to accept higher taxes, particularly at the local level, to fund education.

More information on the survey is available at http://www.ets.org/news/04070101.html.

New York “Push-Out” Cases Reach Settlement

Last year, the New York-based Advocates for Children released a report that said many of the city’s public schools tried to improve their graduation rates by pushing out students who struggle academically. As a result, a series of court cases were filed on behalf of New York City public school students who claimed they were denied their right to attend school.

Last month, a settlement was reached in the last of the cases. As a result of the settlement, procedures were put in place that require holding exit conferences for students who will be leaving school or entering GED programs. This conference is designed to ensure that students will not be forced to leave school. It also requires a school to inform students and their parents about a student’s right to remain in school until the age of twenty-one before being discharged or transferred.

More information on the New York push-out cases is available at http://www.advocatesforchildren.org/.

 

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