Just in time for the start of the school year, Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup released poll results showing that most Americans think education is best controlled at the local level.

The poll, taken during May and June this year, was intended to measure public opinion about the public school system. PDK says, “Too often in national education conversations, the voices of everyday Americans — the public in public schools — are drowned out.”  The purpose of the poll is to “put everyday Americans’ voices front and center.”

According to the accompanying report, the results indicated that most Americans are unsupportive of public education initiatives created by the federal government. They know that local control is more effective.

Here’s how one key question was worded: “In your opinion, who should have the greatest influence in deciding what is taught in the public schools here — the federal government, the state government, or the local school board?”

Fifty-six percent responded that the local school board should have most influence on what their public schools teach.  Twenty-eight percent chose the state government, and 15% chose the federal government.

Results showed a consistent desire for the loosening of control by levels of government several steps removed from local schools.  Seven out of ten respondents favored public charter schools that can operate independently, free of restrictive regulations.

Questions also took the public pulse on Common Core standards.  Though Americans are more familiar with the standards than last year, fewer approve.  More information has not convinced them that this initiative made and promoted by federal policy makers will benefit local schools. Sixty percent of Americans are concerned that the standards will not be able to accommodate the unique needs of local communities.

Many Americans are happy with their local schools, with 50% awarding the public schools in their communities an “A” or “B” grading.  Asked to grade the national public school system as a whole, 80% gave it a C or lower.

Where’s the disconnect?

As the report says, “These findings have serious consequences for this nation’s system of public education.”  PDK asks, “Should the federal government reduce its involvement in public education and thus risk a reduced commitment to closing the well-documented achievement gap? Do local and state education leaders have the capacity and resources to transform America’s public schools?”

The answer they’ve found, on both counts, is “Yes!”

Everyday Americans do have it takes to improve public schools.  We’ve seen time and again that more top-down regulations do not bring the dramatic improvement they promise.  Like most things, education will thrive best when left in the hands of local leaders – those who know their community and their students, those who can use their expertise and creativity to design curriculum and solutions to meet their unique needs.

The people who took this poll believed that.  Will the government listen to them?

Or will the federal government continue the madness of handing down more regulations and expecting a different result?

(Explore a visual presentation of poll results, or read the whole report here.  Part 2 of the results will be released on September 16.)

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

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