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EDUCATION REMAINS A TOP CONCERN AMONG AMERICAN VOTERS

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"Last year the basic instinct of voters was to support No Child Left Behind, but few really understood the law," said Virginia B. Edwards, editor and publisher of Education Week.

While education continues to rank as one of the top concerns for American voters, public antagonism toward the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) appears to grow as people learn more about the law, according to Learn. Vote. Act: The Public’s Responsibility for Public Education, a new national poll from the Public Education Network and Education Week.

In 2004, approximately 75 percent of respondents said they had heard of NCLB, compared to a little more than half (56 percent) in 2003. However, while the percentage supporting the law has remained fairly steady-with a slight drop, from 40 percent to 36 percent-the percentage of participants who oppose the law has risen by 20 points.

“Last year the basic instinct of voters was to support No Child Left Behind, but few really understood the law,” said Virginia B. Edwards, editor and publisher of Education Week. “Data from the poll shows that the more people know about the law, the less they seem to support it.”

The poll found that 15 percent of the participants identified education as their greatest priority in the months leading up to election day-second only to the economy and jobs (27 percent), and ahead of health care (13 percent), terrorism and security (8 percent), and prescription drugs (7 percent). When asked in an open-ended question which program they would most like to see protected from budget cuts, voters overwhelmingly chose education (46 percent). Health care, Medicare, and Medicaid finished a distant second, with 21 percent.

At both the local and national levels, voters do not believe that public schools receive enough funding. In fact, 60 percent said that there is insufficient federal funding for public education nationally. In an effort to improve public education, a majority of participants (59 percent) indicated a willingness to pay higher taxes.

The public’s response to the job that President Bush is doing on education was mixed. While 45 percent believe the president is doing a good job on education-with 10 percent saying his performance has been excellent-52 percent disapproved of his performance, including 25 percent who say he is doing a poor job. With the general election approaching, 60 percent of participants said they would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who has education as a centerpiece of his administration.

The poll surveyed 1,050 registered voters during the week of January 26-30, 2004. Complete poll results are available athttp://www.publiceducation.org/portals/Learn_Vote_Act/default.asp.

On the Calendar

 

Speak Up Day for Teachers

 

Building on the success of Speak Up Day for Students, NetDay will focus on how teachers use and view technology during Speak Up Day for Teachers on April 29, 2004. Speak Up Day for Teachers is a response to an overwhelming demand from teachers for their own time to share voices and views about their personal and professional use of technology and the internet. Teachers of all grades and subjects, and from rural, urban, and suburban communities all over the country, will have a unique online opportunity to participate in this event.

NetDay will release a national report of its findings at the National Education Computing Conference (NECC) in New Orleans. In addition, schools will have free access to their teachers’ aggregated data in June so that they can use it for planning for professional development and technology purchases for the 2004-05 school year.

Go to http://www.NetDay.org and click on the home page link, “Speak Up Day for Teachers,” to register your school or take the survey. The online survey will be open for input by teachers through May 7, 2004.

School Building Week

Last year, construction and renovation of public K-12 school hit record highs as school districts around the country spent over $29 billion, a 4 percent increase from 2002. According to Education Week, increased spending was due to a host of factors, including the passage of school construction bonds in the late 1990s, high-profile reports that drew attention to subpar education facilities, and lawsuits that challenged school finance systems.

In an effort to build greater public awareness of the importance of school facilities, the Council of Educational Facility Planners Internationalannounced that School Building Week 2004 will take place April 19-23. This program is now in its eighth year. A central component of the School Building Week activity is a competition among middle school students in Washington, DC, who are designing schools for the future. For the third year in a row, these students will work with mentors from college and university architecture programs to learn and apply the elements of school design.

For more information on School Building Week, visit http://sbw.cefpi.org/. To read the Education Week article on school construction, visithttp://www.edweek.com/ew/ewstory.cfm?slug=27Construct.h23.

 

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