Americans have a decidedly mixed view of the education reforms now sweeping the nation, supporting moves to open up public schools to more competition — and yet wary of ceding too much control to market forces.
That’s the message that emerges from a trio of new polls on public education. Taken together, the polls out this week capture a deep ambivalence:
— Parents want a degree of choice in education; they continue to back charter schools. But they’re increasingly skeptical of voucher programs that use public funds to help families pay private and parochial school tuition.
— Parents are fine with high-stakes testing; in large numbers, they agree that kids should be held back a year or denied a high school diploma if they can’t pass state exams. Yet they’re less certain about tying teachers’ salaries and performance evaluations to student test scores.