Tuesday, September 12, 2000

Many guess wrong on education survey

By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Ohioans overestimate the annual cost of education and underestimate its value, a statewide survey released Monday by Cincinnati's KnowledgeWorks Foundation said.

        Many guessed that an average four-year state college costs about $11,000 a year, when it was closer to $4,000, the survey said.

  The KnowledgeWorks Foundation survey reported Ohioans:
  • Are willing to pay higher taxes for better facilities and smaller classes if they think the money will be used efficiently and produce the greatest possible benefit to students.
  • Give local schools a better grade (B) than Ohio public schools overall (C-).
  • Recognize the risk of poor educations for some poor and minority students but underestimate those problems among children in foster care and from Appalachia and other rural areas.
  • Overestimate the number of Ohioans with college degrees at 48 percent when the figure is closer to 17 percent.
  • Oppose by a 2-1 margin a change that would make proficiency tests mandatory for promotion at every grade from K-12.
        Ohioans said a bachelor's degree brings a man between 35-44 almost $47,000 a year, when the national figure is closer to $71,000.

        And respondents greatly overestimated or underestimated the average annual cost of $6,642 for youngsters in public education.

        These and other misconceptions can deter Ohioans from improving public education and pursuing education as individuals, KnowledgeWorks concluded.

        The survey also probed Ohioans' attitudes toward early education, special schooling problems faced by minorities, foster children and rural youngsters, and the fact many Ohioans say there is a crisis in education but are unaware of improvements in their schools.

        The KnowledgeWorks telephone survey, done July 12 through Aug. 4, reported responses of 506 randomly chosen Ohioans 18 and older and had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

        KnowledgeWorks was organized two years ago as a $200 million educational foundation to promote better schooling and attack barriers to education from birth to baccalaureate.

        Chad P. Wick, president and chief executive officer of KnowledgeWorks, said the survey helped define gaps in programs for low-income Ohioans whom the foundation targets.

        KnowledgeWorks will put money into local efforts and spread the word about what works and what doesn't, Mr. Wick said.


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