Republicans and Democrats Disagree on the Relative Importance of Reading, Math, and the Arts

Americans have generally wanted much the same things taught in their public schools. Elementary students should learn three “R’s”—reading,’riting and ‘rithmetic. In high school, it’s time to prepare for college or a career by studying core subjects, such as English, history, algebra, biology, and a foreign language. That basic understanding has not prevented political spats over school spending and school attendance boundaries. But the core operations of schools have usually been left undisturbed.

But partisan debate has increasingly turned the core curriculum into a political football.

So begins Paul Peterson in a new Ed Week commentary, “Does the Partisan Divide Include the K-12 Curriculum?

Peterson goes on to examine the findings of the ninth annual Education Next survey of public opinion, which included questions about how much additional emphasis people would like to be placed on a particular subject. “On several matters,” he notes, “the thinking of parents differs from that of teachers, as do the opinions of Republicans from Democrats.”

The biggest divide is over the issue of global warming, Peterson notes. Democrats want the topic to be given much more emphasis than they say the schools are currently giving, while Republicans prefer  less emphasis.  Republicans want more emphasis on reading, math, and history than Democrats do. Democrats want more emphasis on the arts, character education, and bullying prevention. “On key topics,” Peterson writes, “teachers lean in the same direction as Democrats.”

Please read the full article “Does the Partisan Divide Include the K-12 Curriculum?

-Education Next

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