What would most improve public schools?

by Richard Wollenberger

This is the question raised in a snapshot poll by USA Today. I discovered the poll question in the USA Today iPhone app. I like these polls because there are a wide variety of questions, and because as soon as you vote you can see the current results split down to three sets of respondents: Overall, Your State, and Your City. 

I’m not an early childhood expert. I’m the IT Director for the Parents as Teachers national office. I am a father of two girls, now 20- and 15-years old. We participated in our school district’s Parents as Teachers with our first daughter. I’ve also been involved quite heavily in my children’s public schools and with our school district over the past eight years. 

So what would most improve public schools? The choices in this poll were:

  • More money
  • Better teachers
  • Smaller classes
  • Better parents

When I think of all the information I’ve learned from my children about what goes on at school and what I’ve learned from teachers, principals and the Board of Education, I know that more money would allow for more teachers and that would allow for smaller class sizes. I don’t know that better teachers is a result of more money, but certainly better teachers is always a good thing.

Imagine my surprise when, out of 19,574 respondents, 46% said that “Better parents” would most improve public schools! I understand that this is not a scientific poll. But I tend to believe that this many responses may be a better guideline than, say, a political poll we hear so much about where the total polled population is around 1,100 people.

And guess what? I know better parenting makes better students because I see it in my own children, and I see it in the 2,200 kids in our high school and in the 23,000 students in our school district.

And our school district has a large Parents as Teachers program in place. It makes a difference. We make a difference. You make a difference…whether you provide Parents as Teachers services in your area, or you receive Parents as Tachers services for your family.

What about you? What do you think would most improve public schools?

Photo used under Creative Commons license via Neighborhood Centers photostream.