The Majority Of Americans Believe K12 Education Is Headed The Wrong Way 

Education is one of the most essential things in the life of any individual as it greatly influences the lives of people from their ability to live independently and find jobs that allow them to meet their financial needs. Learning and acquiring knowledge also means that you’re less likely to be manipulated by fake news, that you’re better at problem-solving and that you can have stability throughout your life. Education is particularly valuable across vulnerable communities that are at risk of poverty and hunger and can help change the livelihood of entire families.

However, data shows that a little over half of adults in the United States believe that the nation’s K-12 education system, which covers education from kindergarten to the 12th grade, isn’t headed in the right direction. Only 16% believe the education system is on the right path. 32% are unsure about their response, with the stats clearly showing that the general public would prefer a different approach to education.

Subject Concerns 

The reasons why members of the general public are displeased with the ways in which schools operate are diverse and focused on several different topics. One of the main concerns is that schools and teachers don’t spend enough time, funds and resources on core academic subjects, preferring instead to allocate more attention to subjects that parents may consider extraneous or of lesser importance overall. One of the main points of the debate is also the very subjects taught in schools, with parental rights over the school curriculum still a hot topic in the United States and opinions differing based on political orientation and views.

Roughly 71% of teachers say that they don’t feel like they have enough influence over what they get to teach themselves, while 58% consider that the government has too much of a say when it comes to school subjects. A majority of teachers also believe that school boards, the federal government and the parents themselves actually have too much influence despite not always having the right expertise as well.


Since spring 2023, the issue of a loss of funding for schools has been another concern, with school district leaders worried about budget cuts in the context of the expiration of COVID-19 relief funding. The spending cuts are largely expected to affect K-12 schools the hardest. As part of the Inflation Reduction Act that aims to provide funds for economic development, climate action, clean energy production, agriculture, rural developments and financing methods, schools can also access funding that will be used to purchase equipment that can improve indoor air quality, as well as introduce electric buses.

However, although the bill is designated to limit federal spending and save taxpayer dollars, critics have discussed that it doesn’t include funding levels for individual programs. This means that determining the exact, measurable impact of the package will be an almost impossible task. School district leaders have discussed the negative impact this will have on the operations, with long-term implications for both the students and the education system itself. Higher institutions are dealing with issues as well, and apart from the funding, working with a company such as Savanta USA that ensures higher student attraction and retention levels. 

According to a Vermont school superintendent, teachers and institutions are struggling due to clashes with parents as well as a result of student behavior, with mental health concerns being an increasingly pressing issue. On top of all of that, the staffing crisis is only expected to become worse, so that any cuts in the funding schools receive might just become the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Test Scores 

Worries about student performance are at an all-time high, as students across the country fell behind even further despite extensive efforts to foster recovery from the learning setbacks that affected all pupils during the days of the pandemic. The data arrived following a comprehensive analysis of test scores and was released in July 2023. The current year is the deadline for schools to spend what remains of the $190 billion that was received as part of pandemic relief.

And although the resources are limited for many, researchers say that there are ways the schools could take advantage of the funds they have at their disposal and put them to better use. The improvements are mainly centered on instructional strategies and include different approaches, such as forming different groups of students based on their individual needs and providing targeted instructions for them. As they progress, the learning methods can be further adjusted to ensure that the curriculum remains relevant, considering that the recovery period is expected to be a multiyear effort.

Both children and teenagers are making gains at much lower rates compared to those of the days before the pandemic, so instead of shrinking the gaps and moving further away from the gaps in learning, the problem is actually becoming more serious. Tutoring, learning programs that take place during the summer months and other recovery projects have started receiving additional funding as well. Still, data shows that the majority of students still need roughly four more months to catch up in reading abilities and 4.5 months in the case of math.

These skills are the lowest they have been in decades among 13-year-olds, and educators have also highlighted the necessity for additional help in the case of black and Hispanic students who need, on average, a month more than their peers in order to catch up. These figures show once again the extent of the pre-pandemic inequality levels and how they affect every aspect of life for the marginalized groups, including educational achievement.


It’s not just parents who are unsatisfied with the state of schooling; teachers also believe that the state of public education has become worse over the past five years. Similarly, large numbers of educators believe that things are unlikely to change in the near future, with a slight majority saying that they expect things to become even worse by the end of the decade, while one in five say schools are bound to get better.

It remains to be seen who is right and how things will change, but it is clear that most people expect a change.