Talking Points

Americans just want their schools left alone

Americans are exhausted by educational disruption. That's the message of a new survey by the journal Education Next. According to their poll, support for virtually every proposed innovation has dropped since 2019 (a few items were flat). That includes both highly popular measures, such as annual testing, and more controversial policies, including charter schools. 

The result is understandable. After two interrupted school years, many parents are wary of further change. At the same time, confusing and ineffective responses to the pandemic have reduced confidence in some government services (the Post Office also fares worse). With some schools already struggling to provide in-person instruction when confronted with the Delta variant, bold plans seem implausible.

The temperamental conservatism on display here will be frustrating to reformers of both the the left and the right. Although respondents were not impressed by educational conditions at the national level, they tended to approve of their own local schools. That paradox is an obstacle both for efforts to commit schools to a sweeping social justice agenda and to challenge the district model that dominates K-12. The education stalemate continues.