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School 'Fine,' U.S. Teens Report

WASHINGTON, DC–According to results of a survey released Monday by the Department Of Education, most U.S. teenagers characterize their education as "fine."

School Fine

The survey, conducted by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), polled more than 2,000 public-school attendees between the ages of 14 and 18. The students were asked a wide variety of questions about their educational experience, ranging from the subjects they were studying to their feelings about homework, to what they had for lunch that day.

To the question, "How was school today?" 68 percent of participants responded "fine," while 18 percent answered "good" and 10 percent "okay." The remaining 4 percent replied with a shrug.

"This is the highest 'fine' response we've ever gotten since these surveys were first conducted in the 1960s," said Jeanette Franks, an OERI researcher who supervised the survey. "By comparison, in last year's survey, just 44 percent said school was 'fine' today, while 41 percent said, 'ehh,' and 15 percent said, 'I 'unno.' This year, the 'I 'unnos' didn't even rank."

"The findings of this survey should be heartening to parents and educators nationwide," Education Secretary Richard Riley said. "Children are our greatest natural resource, and for a majority of them to feel that they are receiving a fine education is wonderful news."

U.S. students also expressed optimism about their ability to succeed in school. Asked if they expect to do well on upcoming algebra tests, 87 percent said, "Sure." Asked if they were prepared for English exams, 51 percent responded "Yeah" and 40 percent "I guess."

Edina, MN, high-school junior Megan Brodhagen, one of the millions of U.S. teens who praise their educational experience as "good."

Students were even more enthusiastic about America's hard-working educators, with 71 percent characterizing their social-studies teachers as "incredibly fascinating" and earth-science teachers as "not at all boring." A full 82 percent said that their civics class is "so important, I don't want to miss a second of it."

According to Franks, America's teens have an unusually strong sense of the importance of their education and the vital role it plays in becoming productive members of society.

"We asked our survey participants if what they were learning in school was helping them become better people and giving them a sense of values and concern for the community," Franks said. "A whopping 89 percent answered, 'Sure,' with the remaining 11 percent split among 'Yeah, sure,' 'Sure, I guess,' and, 'Sure. Whatever.'"

Despite the welcome results, the Department Of Education is refusing to rest on its laurels.

"Yes, my department is extremely pleased by the poll's results, but we still have a long way to go," Riley said. "I, for one, will not rest until every child in America feels that school is 'fine.' In this, the richest and most powerful nation on the planet, no child should receive an education that is merely 'ehh.' Our kids deserve better."

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