19 August 2013
JENNIFER AGIESTA and PHILIP ELLIOTT
WASHINGTON (AP) - Minority and low-income parents are more likely to see serious problems in their schools - from low expectations to bullying to out-of-date technology and textbooks - than those who are affluent or white, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Poll.
Overall impressions of the nation's schools and teachers are similarly positive among all groups of parents, but deep demographic differences emerge in the details of how parents see teachers, schools and even their own roles in their children's education.
The divisions fall along the familiar fault lines of income, education and race that drive so much of American life. In many cases, it's as though parents are looking at two very different sets of schools in this country.
Most parents say the school their child attends is high-quality and rate their children's teachers positively. White parents are only slightly more likely than others to give their child's school high marks, and parents of all races give their local schools similar ratings for preparing students for college, the workforce, citizenship and life as an adult.
A majority of parents say their children are receiving a better education than the one they received, but blacks and Hispanics feel more strongly than whites that this is the case. The poll also shows minorities feel they have a greater influence over their children's education.
And the ways parents assess school quality and the problems they see as most deeply affecting their child's school vary greatly by parents' race, education and income level.
Sean Anderson, 30, whose children will be in the third and fifth grades in Waxahachie, Texas, this fall, says their schools are probably fine compared with others near him in Dallas, but he worries their education isn't as good as it could be.
"I don't know. Compared to the kids in the U.K.? Probably not," Anderson said.
Among the findings of the AP-NORC poll:
-Parents from wealthier families were less likely than those from less affluent ones to see bullying, low parental involvement, low test scores, low expectations and out-of-date textbooks as serious problems.
-Parents with a college degree point to unequal school funding as the top problem facing education, while parents without a college degree point to low expectations for students as the biggest challenge.
-Black and Hispanic parents are more apt than white parents to see per-student spending, the quality of school buildings and the availability of support resources as important drivers of school quality.
"Schools in many ways are being parents, role models, providing after-school care. Especially middle schools; they're babysitting because they're providing after-school care," said John Dalton, a 49-year-old father of two from Canandaigua, N.Y, who teaches high school English.
Dalton acknowledged his Finger Lakes-region town is affluent and said money isn't determining whether the students succeed or fail. But he said he would like his son Patrick's public Canandaigua Academy to spend more time on rigorous studies.
"The focus isn't really on learning, it's on so many different things, and the social aspect has taken over for so many of our students," he said.
When asked about problems facing students, parents from households earning less than $50,000 a year were more worried than parents making more than $100,000. For example, among less affluent families, 52 percent said bullying was a problem and 47 percent worried about too little parental involvement. Among wealthier parents, those numbers were 18 percent and 29 percent.
Responsibility falls to the parents because teachers aren't doing their jobs, said John Barnum, a father of five who lives in Las Vegas.
"The educators are not there to participate. They're there to do a j-o-b," Barnum said. "The teachers are sending kids home with so much homework. They're being sent home with homework to have the parents teach them or have to teach themselves."
Digging into these numbers reveals another wide gap based on race. Fifty-four percent of Hispanic parents and 50 percent of black parents think they have a great deal or a lot of influence over their child's education. Only 34 percent of white parents share this view.
When asking about school funding, artistic programs and technology, racial identities divided perceptions.
Sixty-one percent of black parents saw inequality in school funding as a problem, compared with 32 percent of white parents. Thirty-six percent of black parents saw insufficient opportunities for musical or artistic pursuits, but just 21 percent of white parents did. And 50 percent of Hispanic parents said a lack of computers and technology was a problem, while 34 percent of black parents and just 16 percent of white parents said the same.
Hispanic parents were significantly more likely than white parents to see keeping good teachers as a problem, by a 67 percent to 24 percent margin. Fighting, violence and gangs were a serious concern for 53 percent of Hispanic parents, but only 13 percent of white parents.
There also are clear socio-economic divides on what qualities parents see in good teachers. Parents with less formal education or lower incomes are more likely to emphasize teachers' academic credentials and experience in the classroom, as are black and Hispanic parents.
The survey was sponsored by the Joyce Foundation, which works to promote policies that improve the quality of teachers, including the development of new teacher evaluation systems, enhance early reading reforms and encourage innovation in public schools.
The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey was conducted June 21 through July 22, 2013. The nationally representative poll involved landline and cellphone interviews in English or Spanish with 1,025 parents of children who completed grades K through 12 in the last school year. Interviews were conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points; it is larger for subgroups.
Associated Press News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius and writer Stacy A. Anderson contributed to this report.
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AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research: http://www.apnorc.org
Posted by Joji Jong at 8:19 AM
01 August 2013
From the Chronicle of Higher Education
By Peter Schmidt
Ball State University's president, Jo Ann M. Gora, on Wednesday sought to quell the controversy surrounding two faculty members who espouse the concept of intelligent design—a rejection of evolution as it is commonly understood—by offering assurances that intelligent design would not be taught in Ball State's science classes or otherwise presented there as truth.
In a statement issued to the Indiana university's faculty and staff, Ms. Gora said intelligent design, which argues that an intelligent force guided the shaping of the universe and life on earth, "is overwhelmingly deemed by the scientific community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory," and therefore it "is not appropriate content for science courses."
Intelligent design and creationism can appropriately be discussed at Ball State in social-science and humanities courses that deal with religion, Ms. Gora said, but cannot be presented as more valid than other views.
"Teaching intelligent design as a scientific theory is not a matter of academic freedom—it is an issue of academic integrity," Ms. Gora said. She said that allowing intelligent design to be presented in a science course as a valid scientific theory "would violate the academic integrity of the course as it would fail to accurately represent the consensus of science scholars."
In a separate statement issued on Wednesday, Joan Todd, a Ball State spokeswoman, said Eric Hedin, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy who had been accused of teaching intelligent design in an honors symposium, and Terry King, the university's provost, had reviewed the findings of a faculty panel charged with investigating the allegation and "are working together to ensure that course content is aligned with the curriculum and best standards of the discipline."
Ms. Todd said Mr. Hedin had actively cooperated with the process and "remains an important and valued member of our physics and astronomy department."
The university continued on Wednesday to stand by its decision to hire Guillermo Gonzalez, a leader in the intelligent-design movement, as an assistant professor of physics and astronomy. The university has argued that Mr. Gonzalez, who was denied tenure at Iowa State University in 2007, is qualified to teach science at Ball State.
Evolution of a ControversyAndrew Seidel, a lawyer for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an advocacy group that sent the university a letter of complaint over Mr. Hedin's teachings, said on Wednesday that his organization was "very, very pleased" with President Gora's statement.
Although Ball State has not released the results of the review of Mr. Hedin's class and it remains unclear exactly how the class will be changed, the university appeared to be taking the foundation's concerns "very seriously," Mr. Seidel said.
But John G. West, vice president of the Discovery Institute, a group that promotes the teaching of intelligent design, said in an e-mail that Ms. Gora's position is "anti-academic freedom and Orwellian in the extreme."
"Academic freedom was designed to protect dissenting and unpopular views among faculty," Mr. West said. "Redefining it as the freedom to teach only the majority view isn't academic freedom; it's an academic straitjacket."
Mr. West argued that Mr. Hedin's honors symposium, "The Boundaries of Science," was interdisciplinary and covered not just science but the bigger questions that science raises. He said science courses can cover the debate over intelligent design without teaching intelligent design as scientific theory.
He asked whether Ms. Gora's ban on discussing intelligent design in science classes bars scientists from attacking intelligent design because, he argued, according to her logic, an attack on intelligent design would amount to an unconstitutional attack on religion.
The controversy over how Ball State deals with intelligent design began in April, when Jerry A. Coyne, a professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago, published a blog post accusing Mr. Hedin of teaching religion in the context of science courses. He cited as evidence the syllabus for "The Boundaries of Science," which said students would examine "features of our existence which may lie outside the naturalistic boundaries of science" and provide "possible indications of the nature and existence of God."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent its letter of complaint to Ball State in May, and the university announced its review of Mr. Hedin's course the next day.
Posted by Joji Jong at 9:33 AM