The poll results that Education Next released yesterday carry mildly glum news for just about every education reformer in the land, as public support has diminished at least a bit for most initiatives on their agendas: merit pay, charter schools, vouchers, and tax credits, Common Core, and even ending teacher tenure. That dimming enthusiasm for change is apt to dominate coverage of the survey findings and the debates that follow.
Yet two other big-picture tendencies are also visible in these data, and it strikes me that they matter more over the long run than any one year’s blips around particular reform ideas.
First, when it comes to fundamental principles and practices regarding K–12 education, the American public is generally pretty sensible and steadfast. More on this below.
Second, when it comes to important basic facts regarding that very same K–12 education system, the American public is stunningly ignorant. This is especially true on the fiscal side. Poll respondents underestimated by half how much money is spent per pupil in their local schools. They’re...