I will confess that I found some of the results from VCU’s Commonwealth Education Poll to be dismaying. Substantial majorities of Virginians believe that public schools have inadequate funding and would be willing to pay higher taxes to help low-performing schools. These misguided souls need to read Bacon’s Rebellion!
On a more positive note, there is strong support for changing the Virginia constitution to give charter schools more independence from local school boards regarding decisions about hiring and firing teachers — 40%. Alas, 45% of those polled opposed a charter-friendly amendment to the constitution.
But the poll I want to focus on, displayed above, shows a remarkable statistic: 16% of Virginians believe that public schools in their communities are “not very safe” or “not safe at all.” Unsafe schools are not an issue for most Virginians. but more than one in four lower-income Virginians and one in four minorities feel differently. Astonishingly, nearly one in three respondents in Hampton Roads felt their schools are unsafe. That is one heck of an indictment. Unsafe schools demoralize teachers and make it harder for well-behaved students to learn. They are a root problem — not the only problem, but a significant one — behind poor academic performance.
I would love to see a poll that drilled down deeper on this issue. Why do people think their schools are unsafe? To what degree do they believe disruptive behavior in school interferes with teaching and learning? Whose interests should be paramount as schools revamp disciplinary policies — those of the bad actors or the students trying to learn?There are currently no comments highlighted.