ERIC Number: ED218374
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-May
Reference Count: 0
Crisis of Confidence: The Reputation of Washington's Public Schools in the Twentieth Century. Studies in D.C. History and Public Policy Paper No. 1.
Diner, Steven J.
The decline of public confidence in Washington, D.C. public schools emerged between 1954 and 1967 from political and social developments that affected the nation's capital. Past research and educational reports, newspaper articles, and politicians' statements indicate that before 1954, public confidence in the schools was relatively high. Educational problems became a public issue only after World War II and were perceived as critical only after desegregation in 1954. By the middle 1960s, much of the attention focused on public schools arose from increasing concern with academic achievement as an indicator of quality, along with such developments as the worsening of actual school conditions, widespread racial prejudice, accelerated public expectations of the schools because of the civil rights movement, and desegregation. Test scores were used to support arguments of segregationists, integrationists, and various activist groups. The public schools' poor image was worsened by incorrect press reports of a trend toward private schools among the middle class, and by the general unpopularity of the Board of Education. After 1975, with the advent of competency-based curriculum under superintendent Vincent Reed, scores did begin to rise, and Reed became the first superintendent in years to remain popular with the press and public. In the 1980s it is important to realize that improvement in student achievement alone will not improve the public school image. Efforts must be made to change public attitudes, to develop measures other than test scores alone as measures of student achievement, and to maintain a new awareness of public schools' vulnerability to negative publicity. (Author/MJL)
Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Board of Education Role, Educational Assessment, Educational Improvement, Educational Quality, Elementary Secondary Education, Political Influences, Press Opinion, Public Opinion, School Desegregation, Social Influences
University of the District of Columbia, Department of Urban Studies, 4200 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20008 ($1.00; make checks payable to UDC Fund/History-Policy Project).
Publication Type: Reports - General; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Endowment for the Humanities (NFAH), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: District of Columbia Univ., Washington, DC. Dept. of Urban Studies.; District of Columbia Univ., Washington, DC. Inst. for District Affairs.
Identifiers: District of Columbia Public Schools
Note: For related documents, see UD 022 299-301.