In this issue of the Minnesota Youth Poll, teenagers around
the state discuss their opinions and experiences with school. Our
goal is to provide an in-depth look, from the adolescent's point
of view, at an institution which has a pervasive and profound
effect on their day-to-day lives and their futures. A wide range
of school issues are explored, and these include the goals of and
purposes of education, overall quality of their schools, studentteacher
relationships, compulsory education, discipline and
order, and school rules.
This study was prompted by several factors. First, the
purposes of the Minnesota Youth Poll are: (1) to give Minnesota
teenagers a voice to express their concerns to adults who provide
services and make decisions affecting their lives, and (2) to
expand factual and theoretical understanding of youth by
learning how they perceive and understand issues significant to
them. The school-its climate, program, and purpose-is
clearly such an issue.
Second, the public debate on the quality and purpose of
secondary schools is primarily a debate between and among
adults. Public schools are one of the few human service
organizations in which consumer participation is not encouraged.
The involvement of the "consumers" of education-the
students-in assessment of and policy making in schools has
been sporadic, and in the past decade, has declined significantly.
Yet it is hard to imagine how thoughtful and worthwhile
reform can take place without the input of students. It is our
hope that this Youth Poll can have a role in bringing young
people into the policy discussions about the future of the
Third, in previous Youth Polls such as Friendship, and
Delinquency, teenage respondents have demonstrated that they
have complex and sophisticated knowledge about issues which
are part of their everyday lives. Indeed, on topics of high
saliency to them, teenagers are thoughtful theorists and philosophers,
whose ideas can provide valuable insight to those who
seek to better understand and work with adolescents. By the
nature of their involvement and the length of their tenure,
teenagers are "experts" on schools. We would anticipate that
this expertise may lead to new insights into how to better
understand and organize schooling for adolescents.
This poll is divided into two parts-the first covers purpose
and climate of schools, and the second focuses on discipline and
school rules. Appendix A contains the specific questions on
each of these topics.
University of Minnesota. Agricultural Experiment Station.
Minnesota Youth Poll: Youth's Views on School and School Discipline.
Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station.
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