Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Press Release from nsba.org

Alexandria, Va. – August 22 – Anne L. Bryant, executive director of the National School Boards Association, said that the 38th annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward Public Schools released today delivers a strong message about the importance of local communities and local governance.

In a commentary invited and published by PDK as part of this year’s poll, Bryant noted that the poll continues to reflect “that the closer the public is to its schools, the higher it rates them. Interestingly, we see that a majority of the public prefers that local school boards have the greatest influence over what is taught in the public schools. School boards need to set local high academic goals that reflect state and national standards and also incorporate the needs and desires of their local communities.

“Further,” Bryant said in her commentary, “the poll shows the public’s distaste emerge for mayoral interference as nearly 70 percent of the public opposes having a mayor take over the public schools even as an answer to turning around low-performing schools. This public sentiment aligns closely with a recent policy adoption by our governing body that strongly opposed mayoral takeovers. Instead, mayors should work on other factors that impact academics such as crime, housing costs, and health care.”

She also noted that pre-school comes to the forefront this year, as a majority of respondents say that they would be willing to pay more taxes for funding preschool programs for children from low-income or poverty-level households. This is a dramatic increase over past years’ numbers and emphasizes the value the public puts on early childhood education.

Bryant noted that “The public continues to see funding as the biggest problem for public schools, which remains a concern for all of us as Congress backs away from its promise to fully fund programs that can make a difference for children who desperately need help.” This reinforces the results of NSBA’s own poll of 1,200 likely voters in which 70 percent of respondents said that Congress should restore funding for No Child Left Behind and special education programs in next year’s budget to the authorized levels.

To read the details of this year’s PDK/Gallup Poll, please visit www.pdkintl.org.

The National School Boards Association is a national federation of state school boards associations that represent more than 95,000 school board members who govern the nation’s public schools. The organization’s mission is to foster excellence and equity in public elementary and secondary education throughout the United States through local school board leadership.


TABLE 13. In some communities that have a large percentage of low-performing public school students, the mayors have taken control of the entire public school system to attempt to correct the situation. If the public schools in your community had a large percentage of low-performing students, would you favor or oppose having the mayor take control of the schools?


No Children
In School

Public School












Don't know




1) Findings.

a) While 58% still prefer that the local school board make decisions as to what is taught in local schools, that percentage is down from 68% in 1980.

b) The shift has been in the direction of the state level, where the percentage has grown from 15% to 26%.

c) The percentage saying the federal government should have the greatest influence has gone up from 9% to 14%.

d) Contracting out the operation of entire public school systems is now approved by 24% of respondents, down from 31% in 2002.

e) Having the mayor take over control of schools with a large number of low-performing students is favored by only 29%.

Conclusion: The public's preference is that the local school board make decisions about what the schools teach. Of those favoring decisions at the state or federal level, two-thirds opt for the state. True to its preference for change through the existing school system, the public opposes contracting with private firms for the operation of schools and having mayors take over schools with large numbers of low-performing students.

Linda Embrey

Communications Office

National School Boards Association

703-838-6737; lembrey@nsba.org; www.nsba.org;

also visit www.nsba.org/educationnewsstand

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