As the 2020 elections loom, the education debates will be shaped by opinions that
get less attention than they deserve. First: While most Americans give their
own community's schools an A or a B, just a quarter give the nation's schools those grades.
That's why voters tune out candidates
who suggest their local schools are failing, even while accepting that
schools somewhere else may need stronger medicine. Second: three-quarters of Americans
support teacher pay increases, but support drops substantially after
respondents are told what the average teacher actually earns. Teacher pay
increases have real appeal, but teachers should take care not to overstate their case.
Third: Americans — regardless of race — support stricter school discipline by nearly
a ten to one margin. Parents will be skeptical of proposals thought to weaken
school discipline. Candidates should take care to listen to what voters think and
not just what advocates might have them believe.
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