There’s a longstanding mystery when it comes to the relationship between America’s schools and the parents who send their children to them. Evidences of this mystery have been apparent in a running Gallup poll which asks Americans to rate public schools.

On a national level, Americans think public schools stink. Criticism decreases considerably, however, when Americans are asked to rate their local public schools. And when it comes to the schools which their own children attend, praise goes sky-high.

Why is there such a disconnect?

The answer to that question may have something to do with doting parents. After all, most parents have the greatest love and belief in their child. The idea that he or she might not be thriving in the local public school is unthinkable!

But a recent survey of nearly 1,500 parents from Learning Heroes has a different answer to the question of why parents express so much support for their local public schools. Yes, parents are doting. But they also may not have an accurate idea of the learning that is taking place in that school.

Consider the following chart. When asked whether or not their child was achieving at or above the national level, almost all parents gave a positive answer.

Parents Think Children at Grade LEvel

However, that confidence shrank considerably when parents were informed of what the nation’s actual math and reading statistics were.

Parental Doubt on Child's Academic Performance

This suggests that parental support for a child’s public school is based on a lack of information. So when it comes to how students are doing academically, just what are the facts?

When it comes to the nation’s 8th graders, the numbers are a bit stunning:

  • Roughly 2 in 3 are not proficient in math, reading, or science.
  • Roughly 3 in 4 are not proficient in writing, geography, and civics.
  • More than 4 in 5 are not proficient in U.S. history.

For the curious, those numbers don’t magically improve after four years in high school. In many instances, they grow worse. And it is because of this that between 40 to 60 percent of college freshmen require remedial education. As one student put it in a 2016 remedial education report produced by the Center for American Progress:

“If I was taught and learned how to think more critically and pushed to achieve more or reach higher standards in high school, I think I would be doing much better in college, and it would be easier.”

Based on this information, one can only wonder if America’s poor academic standing persists because parents are being shielded from the truth about their child’s education. Is it time we demanded more honesty from the education system so that parents can make a more informed choice about how and where and what their child will learn?

[Image Credit: Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stacy Sanchez]