Last night, the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) released the 2017 Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK) Poll of Public’s Attitudes Towards Public Schools. The overall takeaway from this report, which is PDK’s 49th annual report on Americans’ views toward public schools, is that there is strong agreement that public schools should provide supports outside of the typical school day. More than 9 in 10 Americans report that they support public schools providing afterschool programs, with 77 percent reporting that they strongly supported schools providing afterschool programs.
Support was also strong for schools providing mental health services (87 percent) and general health services (79 percent). Support was very high for schools seeking additional public funding to pay for these services, with 76 percent of Americans agreeing that schools are justified in seeking additional public funds.
The importance of helping students prepare for success outside of school also came through loud and clear in respondents’ answers. More than 8 in 10 Americans say that high schools should offer job or career skills classes even if it means that students spend less time in class (82 percent) and that public schools should offer classes where students can earn a certificate or license that will qualify them for employment in specific fields (86 percent). More than half report that schools should offer more job or career skills classes.
The poll, which interviewed more than 1,500 adults and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points, also found that:
- 82 percent say that it is highly important for schools to help students develop interpersonal skills, such as being cooperative, respectful of others, and persistent at solving problems.
- 80 percent say that technology and engineering classes are an extremely important or very important element of school quality
- 7 in 10 say it is extremely or very important that schools offer art and music classes (71 percent) and extracurricular activities (70 percent)
- 70 percent of parents would like their child to attend a racially diverse school
- 22 percent of Americans cite a lack of funding as the biggest problem facing their local schools
This is the first time that the PDK poll has included a question on afterschool, but its findings mirror other public opinion research on the strong public support for afterschool programs.
As we gear up for Lights On Afterschool, you can use public opinion research like this to help make the case for federal, state, and local investments in afterschool. Tune into our webinar this Thursday that will talk about the latest federal policy developments and how your Lights On Afterschool celebrations can help raise awareness in your community about the integral role programs play.