Most adults are dissatisfied with the level of public primary and secondary education. A Gallup poll revealed that 55% of Americans are dissatisfied, with 32% saying they are "somewhat dissatisfied" and 23% saying they are "completely dissatisfied".
Meanwhile, the exodus of educators continues. The National Education Association revealed that there were about 300,000 fewer workers in public education in June 2022 than in February 2020. And that about 55% of educators are considering leaving the profession earlier than they had originally planned.
By the time children return to school, only 9% of adults said they were "completely satisfied" with the quality of education. The reasons are varied, but the most recurrent response was concern about the rigor of curricula and teaching methods. Fifteen percent of parents cited poor or outdated curriculum; 11% cited failure to teach the basics: reading, writing and arithmetic. Fifty-six percent of respondents referred to these and other concerns about the quality of teaching or curricula.
The next most common issue, raised by 23% of respondents, is that schools or students suffer from lack of resources. The top issue is unequal access to quality education for students with low income or due to racism (8%). Others mention lack of school funding (6%), low teacher pay (4%), lack of quality teachers (4%), and lack of staff (4%).
Seventeen percent of respondents focus on the perception of political agendas present in schools. 10% believe political agendas are taught in general, 4% cite transgender/sexual education specifically and 3% critical race theory.
Lack of financing
Public education funding "needs an overhaul"in school districts with high and middle poverty rates, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). A 2020 report by the Century Foundation estimated that public schools have a $150 billion funding shortfall.
Educator salaries would also need to be reviewed. According to EPI, the nationwide salary gap between teachers and other professionals with similar educational experience reached a new high in 2021, reaching 23.5%.
The nation's elementary and secondary schools have experienced unprecedented changes over the past three years due to the pandemic. Gallup suggests that Americans' low satisfaction with education also comes at a time when student test scores have fallen sharply, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
The NCES said in a press release this week that this year's test showed that "average scores for 9-year-old students in 2022 decreased 5 points in reading and 7 points in math compared to 2020.... This is the largest decline in average reading scores since 1990, and the first decline in math scores."