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Principals Speak Out on Major Election Issues

On October 30, the National Association of Elementary School Principals NAESP) released the results of a September survey of 712 of its members. Principals responded to statements about more than 20 hot-button education issues. Included: Survey results summarized!

School principals have weighed in on the important election-year education issues. In a survey of 712 K-8 school principals the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) conducted, fully 96 percent agreed or strongly agreed that

  • principals should have more control over hiring staff and managing school budgets;
  • the ratio of students to teacher in the early grades should be 18 to 1;
  • after-school programs should be expanded to give students in failing schools extra help.

Vouchers, reconstitution (the closing and reorganization of failing schools), and the establishment of more charter schools were among the election-year issues that got the least support from the principals who responded.

Click here for detailed results of the survey.
"Clearly and overwhelmingly, principals believe smaller classes, stronger leadership, after-school programs, and the Internet are good for schools and students," said Vincent Ferrandino, the NAESP executive director, in a statement released with the findings. "We look forward to working with the next administration to keep our members' priorities and public education at the top of the national agenda after Election Day."

The September mail-back survey had a 22 percent return rate. The respondents live in small towns (27.6 percent), suburban areas (23.7 percent), rural areas (22.5 percent), and urban areas (25.8 percent). Their schools are located in mainly middle (50.2 percent) or low (40.3 percent) socioeconomic areas.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals, representing 28,500 members, does not endorse political candidates.

The Results Are In ...

Following are the percentages of principals who agreed or strongly agreed with each statement presented in the survey. All numbers are rounded.

96% Principals should be allowed to hire staff and manage budgets.
96% In early grades, class size should be no larger than 18 students to one teacher.
96% After-school programs should be expanded to give students in failing schools extra help.
92% Every classroom and library (not just every school) should be wired for the Internet.
89% Teachers, principals, and school board members should be protected from lawsuits that arise from their efforts to maintain discipline.
79% Character education should be part of the curriculum in every K-12 school.
75% Parents, students, and teachers should meet on the first day of school and sign a code of discipline.
73% The Family and Medical Leave Act should be extended to allow parents to attend parent-teacher conferences and a first-day-of-school meeting.
73% The federal government should fund universal voluntary preschool.
69% Schools should establish zero tolerance policies for disruption and allow teachers to remove students from the classroom.
68% The Head Start program should be moved to and administered from the Department of Education instead of the Department of Health and Human Services.
65% All students should pass a high school exit exam to receive a diploma.
60% Schools receiving federal funds should test all students in grades 3 through 8 in reading and math every year.
55% Social promotion should be eliminated.
54% Schools receiving federal funds should test all new teachers for subject matter knowledge and teaching skills.
42% States should publish school-by-school report cards for parents and the public.
39% Voluntary vocal prayer should be allowed in public schools.
29% After-school programs should include faith-based organizations and charities.
21% Schools determined to be failing should be closed and reopened with a new principal and intensive training for teachers who need it.
20% Schools determined to be failing should allow families to use Title I money on public or private school costs or tutoring if the school doesn't improve within three years.
14% Federal funds should be available for both public school or private school choice.
10% The number of charter schools should be increased.

For detailed data, see NAESP Opinion Survey Data (requires Adobe Acrobat.)

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Article by Gary Hopkins
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