Schizophrenic nation

Good grief! Americans' famed ambivalence, not to say schizophrenia, deepens with respect to school reforms. The annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll released Tuesday, which measures the nation's attitudes toward public schools, shows that while most Americans endorse the goals associated with the No Child Left Behind Act, few embrace its methods. For example, respondents overwhelmingly support closing the achievement gaps between white and minority students without compromising high standards, yet nearly 8 in 10 respondents would not send their child to another school if their local school was designated as needing improvement - a right ostensibly conferred by NCLB. Why? According to the poll, most reject the idea that student test scores in English and math alone produce a fair picture of how well a school is performing. Meanwhile, 75 percent of respondents say the achievement gap is due to factors other than the quality of schooling received, yet 58 percent believe it's the public schools' responsibility to close that gap.

"Americans grow skeptical as school reform takes toll," by Gail Russell Chaddock, Christian Science Monitor, August 24