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Public Opinion: School Decisions Should be Kept Local



Each year Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK) and Gallup help track public opinion about America’s public schools. Families, education professionals, researchers, and policy makers have used the PDK/Gallup poll for 46 years with the common goal of improving U.S. schools.

The poll surveys more than 1,000 American adults from May to June each year. This year’s poll offered a number of insights into public opinion on education, but one of those insights—in light of Missouri Amendment 3—stands out in light of recent discussions surrounding Amendment 3: Americans believe that local school boards (not the state or federal government) should have the biggest influence on decisions affecting our students.

The question that Gallup asked Americans was, “In your opinion, who should have the greatest influence in deciding what is taught in the public schools here—the federal government, the state government, or the local school board?”

The majority of poll participants, regardless of their political allegiances, said that the local school board should have the greatest influence on what is taught in public schools. 68% of Republicans, 45% of Democrats, 55% of Independents, and 60% of public school parents agreed that the greatest influence on public education should happen locally, rather than at the state or federal level.

Missouri’s Constitutional Amendment 3 would shift influence away from local school boards. The Amendment, which will be on the November general election ballot, centers on using state-approved standardized test scores to evaluate your child’s teachers.

Paul Morris, a member of the Ferguson-Florissant school board says, “This top-down mandate would shift local control away from parents, teachers and school districts, while implementing unfunded, statewide standardized tests.We all know funding is already a problem for many of our schools, and implementing more standardized tests will take even more money out of the classroom." (source)

Missouri Amendment 3 will require teachers to be evaluated quantitatively based on student scores on standardized tests. These tests (and teacher evaluations) wouldn’t just be for subjects like mathematics that have clear “right” and “wrong” answers. Teachers of subjective content areas like the Arts, music, and literature would also be evaluated based on their students’ standardized test scores.

Learn more about Constitutional Amendment 3

School principals, superintendents, and school boards would no longer be able to offer subjective evaluations of the teachers they see day-in and day-out. Instead, the state would be responsible for approving the standardized tests that Missouri’s students would take, the results of which would determine the future of our state’s teachers.

This kind of extreme reform presented in Missouri Amendment 3 goes against what the majority of Americans want: for the greatest influence on education to come from their local school boards.

Although the campaign behind Amendment 3 has suspended its current efforts, the Amendment remains on the November general election ballot. If you, like most other Americans, believe that control of our schools should remain in the hands of local school boards, superintendents, and principals, please go to the polls on November 4th and join thousands of other Missourians who will vote NO on Missouri Amendment 3.

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