August 22, 2008

Postal Service More Loved Than Public Schools

According to Lisa Snell:

An August 2008 poll conducted by Education Next and Harvard University finds that Americans think less of their schools than of their police departments and post offices. When asked to grade the post office, 70 percent of respondents gave an "A" or "B." In contrast, only 20 percent of Americans said public schools deserve an "A" or a "B." Twenty-six percent of the country actually gave their public schools a grade of "D" or "F." And African-Americans are even more down on public schools, 31 percent gave public schools a "D" or an "F."


I'm not surprised. The post office delivers my mail faithfully, albeit expensively and with a substandard tracking system, regardless of my social status, my ability to receive mail, or my mail receiving style.

15 comments:

Downes said...

A low grade means that people think it is not performing well, not that it's unloved. People may love their public schools even if they give them a ranking of F.

Downes said...

Moreover...

> The post office delivers my mail...regardless of my social status, my ability to receive mail, or my mail receiving style.

Maybe things are dfifferent where you live. But where I live...

Social status: people can purchase a different 'class' of post by paying different amounts of money

My ability to receive mail: if you are unable to receive mail, you can have a post-office box designated, where you can go get it

My mail receiving style: we have rural routes and mailboxes for the rural style of mail, home delivery through mail slots for urban, 'Supermailboxes' for suburban, and personal hand-delivery for some businesses.

It would be absurd to imagine that there could be one single way to deliver the mail for everyone; nobody would suppose that we should ignore the significant differences between people's capacity to receive mail.

KDeRosa said...

That was supposed to be tobguw-in-cheek.

KDeRosa said...

It would be absurd to imagine that there could be one single way to deliver the mail for everyone; nobody would suppose that we should ignore the significant differences between people's capacity to receive mail.

But, ultimately, the mail gets delivered unlike, say, educational services, which frequently do not.

Anonymous said...

I love you downes

you continue to apologize for a system that is broken and won't admit it or do anything about it

Attorney DC said...

I wonder if part of the reason the public is so down on public schools is because of all the media bashing of public schools? I don't think I've seen an article lambasting the postal service all year in the Washington Post, but it seems like there's another one out each week about the awful quality of the schools.

Do the survey respondents think their OWN children's school is bad (likely based more on experience), or just "public schools in general" are bad (likely based more on media coverage)?

Anonymous said...

attorney dc

this is what often happens when reality doesn't match what people would like

when the economic optimists don't believe in the economy, they blame the press

schools in the US just aren't educating their students sufficiently. period.

you can talk about the press all you like, but that is the reality

Attorney DC said...

Anonymous: I have to disagree. I've seen at least one poll where parents are asked to evaluate THEIR own child's school, and also asked to evaluate "public schools" in general.

The result is that parents have pretty high opinions of their own child's school, but believe schools in general are lower quality. This distorted result must come from somewhere - I'm thinking a combination of the media and law makers.

CrypticLife said...

attorney dc,

There are other psychological explanations for such a result. Who wants to think of themselves sending their own children to a substandard school? Wouldn't people be inclined to rationalize?

For what it's worth, though, I would rank my children's public school pretty low. And, it's in the top 150 or so elementary schools in New Jersey (so, out of 1500).

Jeanne from Michigan said...

Our educational system is in a crisis right now and needs our immediate attention. There are a lot of great discussions going on about our educational system and where it needs to go. I'm watching a live webcast from The Aspen Institute's National Education Summit www.aspeninstitute.org/urgentcall. It looks like they have a great agends of speakers as well as some very meaningful open discussions with the participants to seek consensous on ways to move forward together for the sake of our children's future and our economy. There's no doubt change needs to take place. We need to stand up and take notice. Whether you have children in school or not, we are all have a voice in this.

Anonymous said...

Love the survey -- FWIW, the results mirror my own feelings -- I'd rate my local Post Office A, the local police an A- or B+, and the local schools, C- (maybe D+). And I am constantly reminded that the schools my kids attend are ranked very high within the state.

The Post Office doesn't expect me to deliver the mail for them when it's stuff they don't like. Can you imagine the mailperson telling you they don't like packages. So please, deliver those yourself? But I've been told that the teachers aren't going to dwell on phonics and math facts, 'cuz they aren't fun.

nancy moede said...

Does anyone on this page work in education? Why am I not picking up a sense of ire? Post offices are better than schools? I think the individual who posted the survey was setting education up for a failing grade - and I for one am enraged. We are an optimistic, tireless bunch who continually strive to produce successful, moral citizens. We are a berated unpaid bunch who have to put up with ridiculous surveys like this one.

Anonymous said...

nancy,

I don't think the survey was about postal workers and teachers, but rather each institution.

Teachers are hard-working and many care a great deal.

However, some members of the education establishment have done some very bad things for children(e.g., implementing whole language in California without even considering the evidence, ignoring the results of Follow Through).

It's like the auto workers and the domestic auto makers. Back when quality was dismal, it wasn't the fault of the workers. but the cars were still not up to global standards. (US cars are much, much, much better now)

palisadesk said...

Does anyone on this page work in education? Why am I not picking up a sense of ire?

Yes, there are quite a few teachers who are regulars here. Maybe, like me, many do not share your sense of "ire." We are not necessarily "enraged" at the suggestion that people are more satisfied with the post office than with public schools. Some of us work in, or have worked in, public schools that are clearly falling down on the job on a number of fronts -- despite Herculean efforts by individuals (teachers and others).

Your profile identifies you as a teacher in a private school, so I can understand how it is that you can describe yourself and your co-workers as follows: "We are an optimistic, tireless bunch who continually strive to produce successful, moral citizens. We are a berated unpaid bunch..." though I am surprised that you are UNpaid. Surely you meant underpaid? Can there really be a school full of energetic staff who work for free?

Public schools have many outstanding and dedicated staff, but no way (in general) for those with shared visions, shared values or similar work ethics to band together. You will find excellent teachers in some of the worst schools in the country, and g**awful ones in some of the "high scoring" schools. Staff assignments are generally done by formulas, politics and random chance. I have worked in good schools and bad, but in none have I been surrounded by "tireless" and "energetic" (nor unpaid!) colleagues. In any school these are likely to comprise a minority, hopefully a minority large enough to have a positive effect on the school climate.

As for forming "moral citizens," in today's very diverse school, what constitutes "morality" is very much a matter of dispute. I have taught briefly in a good private school and agree that under such circumstances, you can get a faculty together that share values and purpose, and work hard to produce successful, moral citizens (the school I was in had that, as well as academic excellence, as an aim). In the public system, such communality of vision and purpose is very rare. Some charter schools and magnet schools can assemble staff and students around a shared mission, but such schools are the exception, not the rule.

Unfortunately, the sometimes barbed criticisms of public education -- especially urban public education -- found on D-Ed Reckoning are only too true to many urban teachers' (and parents') experience. Plenty of what goes on not only is not benefiting children, it is actively, and maliciously, destroying their hopes and futures. I wish my assertion was even a teeny bit exaggerated, but it is not. I can suggest some very sobering reading if you're interested in the reality of urban education today.

BTW, I must be older than you -- I can remember plenty of criticism of the Post Office, but with the advent of courier services and e-mail, the USPS has greatly improved its offerings in response to customer needs and demands. It is no longer a monopoly. Unfortunately for many, especially the urban and rural low-SES families, public schools are a monopoly, and there is nowhere they can go where they and their children will be treated with respect and their educational needs addressed appropriately and with the urgency required.

kerry said...

"The postal department delivers my mail irrespective of my status and ability to recieve mail"
LOL.