New UNC-CH Poll: Southerners Feel Schools Should Require More Work, Increase Discipline

August 18, 1998

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--Over time, Southerners' views on some education issues have remained stable, while others have changed dramatically, according to a new study.

The study, conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, showed 63 percent of Southerners felt satisfied with children's education today, the same as in 1963.

"Our results showed that while 73 percent of all parents are satisfied, only 34 percent of non-parents are," said Dr. Beverly Wiggins, director of research development at UNC-CH's Institute for Research in Social Science. "At the same time, the percentage of adults who feel that children today are being educated better than they were has declined from 63 percent in 1948 to 50 percent in 1998.

"In light of the high level of satisfaction with education in 1998, this decline is puzzling," she said. "It most likely reflects inferior educational opportunities for adults questioned in 1948 but also could result from a nostalgic view of the past among those questioned in 1998."

Wiggins and colleagues asked questions about education in UNC-CH's Spring 1998 Southern Focus Poll and compared responses to similar surveys conducted decades earlier. The Southern Regional Education Board commissioned the work, which the UNC Center for the Study of the American South and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper co-sponsored.

"Southerners consistently have criticized public schools for demanding too little work from students, and the data suggest that this concern is heightened today," Wiggins said. "While 35 percent of respondents in a 1958 study volunteered that the amount of work demanded of students was 'about right,' only 10 percent of the 1998 respondents agreed."

When asked about homework, a third of Southerners said high school students should be given more, compared to 28 percent questioned in 1955. Now, 42 percent favor increasing the number of school days for high-schoolers compared with 27 percent in 1961. More than a third think the academic year should be lengthened for elementary school children as well.

"Attitudes about discipline have changed dramatically in the South," Wiggins said. "In 1998, 76 percent of respondents said that public school discipline is 'not strict enough.' Only 41 percent in 1954 felt that discipline was inadequate."

Other Findings Were That: Interviewers spoke by telephone in March with random samples of 841 adult Southerners and 413 non-Southerners. For poll purposes, the South consisted of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The new poll's margin of error is 3.5 percent.

Note: Wiggins can be reached at (919) 966-2350. She said results from education questions included in the poll have not appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution yet.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Related Education Articles from Brightsurf:

Applying artificial intelligence to science education
A new review published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching highlights the potential of machine learning--a subset of artificial intelligence--in science education.

Dementia education
School-based dementia education could deliver much needed empathy and understanding for older generations as new research from the University of South Australia shows it can significantly improve dementia knowledge and awareness among younger generations.

How can education researchers support education and public health and institutions during COVID-19?
As education researchers' ongoing work is interrupted by school closures, what can they do to support education and public health institutions dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic?

Online education platforms could scale high-quality STEM education for universities
Online and blended (online and in-person) STEM instruction can produce the same learning outcomes for students as traditional, in-person classes at a fraction of the cost, finds research published today in Science Advances.

Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.

The new racial disparity in special education
Racial disparity in special education is growing, and it's more complex than previously thought.

Education may be key to a healthier, wealthier US
A first-of-its-kind study estimate the economic value of education for better health and longevity.

How education may stave off cognitive decline
Prefrontal brain regions linked to higher educational attainment are characterized by increased expression of genes involved in neurotransmission and immunity, finds a study of healthy older adults published in JNeurosci.

Does more education stem political violence?
In a study released online today in Review of Educational Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, three Norwegian researchers attempt to bring clarity to this question by undertaking the first systematic examination of quantitative research on this topic.

Individual education programs not being used as intended in special education
Gone are the days when students with disabilities were placed in a separate classroom, or even in a completely different part of the school.

Read More: Education News and Education Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to