WASHINGTON—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on the 2016 PDK International Poll on public education:
“While the new PDK poll demonstrates real differences in the public’s goals for public education, some common themes emerge that should help thwart some of today’s education wars—funding is as vital as ever, as are real parental engagement and fixing, not closing, struggling schools.
“With the Every Student Succeeds Act, federal education policy has been reset. We now have the potential to mitigate the overemphasis on high-stakes testing and to broaden the role of education beyond math and English to all the purposes Americans say are important: academics, career and life skills, and citizenship. These are not mutually exclusive, but they don't happen when accountability systems make annual math and English test scores the be all and end all. When parents are engaged, schools are well-funded and educators have the necessary tools, time and supports—as we see in districts that are well-off socially and economically—we see a real confidence and satisfaction in schooling.
“Money matters, something Americans have said consistently for the past 15 years of PDK polling. And the public also sees the value of providing more career and skills-based opportunities, which the AFT has been advocating for years, because they provide additional pathways to graduation, higher education and well-paying jobs.
“The public knows what we know—fixing rather than closing struggling public schools is the right intervention for our students and communities. We should work collectively, as we did in New York City in the 1990s with the Chancellor’s District, to do just that to ensure safe, welcoming, appropriately resourced and staffed neighborhood schools where, working with parents, we can meet the needs of all children.”