Gallup Poll and CNN Story: Schooling Down, Unschooling Up

These two news stories, one a Gallup poll report and the other from CNN, show us how hard change is to make, but also how it gradually occurs despite institutional resistance.

"Near record-low confidence in public schools" is the headline for the Gallup report. From the report:
"Public schools currently rank in the middle of the pack of institutions tested -- 8th out of 16 -- in the general range of the presidency, U.S. Supreme Court, and medical system. The current rating is down significantly when compared with confidence levels seen throughout the 1970s and at points in the late 1980s, when about half or more Americans expressed confidence in U.S. public schools." Since 2005 only 34% of those polled "say they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in public schools."

It is no surprise that people are losing their faith in our institutions, which increasingly seem to benefit themselves and their benefactors more than the people they are supposed to serve. What is surprising, to me, is how the common remedy for schools goes unquestioned: do more of the same, only do it more intensely. More tests, more school days, more teacher testing, more bureaucratic hoops disguised as educational needs. It makes me wonder if any of the "small is beautiful," people-centered reforms that have been ignored for decades will ever stand a chance of being tried by institutional education.

However, I'm heartened, as always, by the growth of homeschooling, alternative schooling, and, most important, of unschooling. This recent story by CNN reports the growth of these alternatives; perhaps the 66% of citizens who do not have confidence in public schools will stop waiting for someone to give them an option and demand access to what over 2 million homeschooled children have: authentic learning in the real world, with support as needed from adults.