ERIC Number: ED396392
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Oct
The Structure of Public Confidence in Education. Faculty Research Working Paper Series.
Recent studies indicate that Americans have lost faith in public schools. Polls trace a steady decline of confidence in the educational system, a decline extending over the past two decades. The general trend masks two anomalies, however. First, several indicators associated with increased confidence in the schools are on the rise--students staying in school instead of dropping out, parents enrolling their children in public schools over private schools, and governments boosting financial outlays for public education. Second, poll respondents are more likely to express dissatisfaction with the nation's schools than with their own local schools. This essay explores ways of reconciling the contradictory evidence, argues that fundamental relationships of schools and public must be reexamined for a fuller understanding of the problem, and discusses areas where additional research could inform educational policy. When thinking about public confidence in education or talking about ways to boost education's institutional legitimacy, it is important to recognize the two distinctions outlined--the difference between the public's faith in schools and school systems and the difference between the perceptual and behavioral manifestations of that faith. Six figures and four tables are included. (Contains 49 references.) (LMI)
Descriptors: Educational Assessment, Educational Attitudes, Elementary Secondary Education, Enrollment Trends, Performance, Private Schools, Public Opinion, Public Relations, Public Schools, School Community Relationship, School Effectiveness
Faculty Research Working Paper Series, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 79 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 (No. R95-27; $5).
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA. Kennedy School of Government.