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What Parents Want

Posted By Spencer Irvine On August 27, 2013 @ 3:32 pm In Faculty Lounge | No Comments

In a recent survey and study published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute [1], which focuses on education issues and public policy, parents were split as to their priorities in K-12 education.

The authors, Dara Zeehandelar and Amber Winkler (both who hold Ph.D.’s), discovered that parents all want a core curriculum based on reading and math with emphases in science, technology, engineering and math education (also known as STEM), but in addition they said that parents wanted a variety of specializations.

Some of the highly-prioritized specializations and emphases for parents were:

  • Life skills;
  • High academic standards;
  • Programs for gifted students;
  • Character development;
  • Using technology;
  • High standards for behavior; and
  • Hands-on learning

The specializations that parents put in the middle of their list of concerns, at least in the survey, were:

  • Ability grouping;
  • Extracurricular activities, other than sports;
  • Vocational classes;
  • Citizenship;
  • Parental involvement;
  • Diversity in the student body;
  • High test scores; and
  • Test preparation.

What were the lowest priorities among parents? They were “small enrollment,” “after-school programs” and “strong athletics,” with “school uniforms” rounding out the bottom. Thus do parents dismiss the silver bullets of putative education reformers.

Students also had a different take on education as far as their priorities and rankings go:

  • Self-discipline and study habits;
  • Communication skills;
  • Critical thinking;
  • College preparedness
  • Social skills;
  • Love of learning;
  • Identify personal interests;
  • Self-esteem; and
  • Strong morals

What were the lower-ranking aspects of the student survey? That would be “values diversity” and “knows importance of college” along with “job skills,” “foreign language,” and “appreciation of nature.”

Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
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