The New Generation Gap in Schools

By Nora Carr

Telling your story -- and the story of how public schools are making a difference in your community -- is more important now than ever before.

If school board members, superintendents, teachers, parents, volunteers, and other constituents do not intervene soon, and in a big way, shifting demographics, a rising charter school movement, and divisive politics will continue to drive a wedge between the public and their public schools.

Simple demographic shifts underscore why we need more proactive storytelling about why locally controlled public schools are so important. In the 2008 Presidential election, for example, about 70 percent of voters did not have school-aged children.

Thus, while most public opinion polls show that parent support for and satisfaction with their children’s public schools remains strong, this mainstay constituency represents a shrinking demographic.

In terms of impact, this means public schools can do a great job of teaching students and communicating with parents, and still miss 70 percent of the people upon whose support they depend. Lacking relevant, firsthand knowledge, voters will rely on news coverage, neighborhood gossip, water cooler discussions, and other personal experiences to fill the void.

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