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Baby Boomers Hold Their High School Years in High Regard

Most Give Today's Schools Passing Grades

They may not have been exactly how Richie and The Fonz portrayed them, but for most Baby Boomers their high school years were, indeed, "Happy Days."

According to a new AARP report, more than 80 percent of Baby Boomers say they are satisfied with the education they received during their high school years. In addition, almost four in ten (39%) award today's public high schools a grade of "A" or "B" and nearly half (46%) give schools a "C." Only 11% rated today's public schools as either "poor" or "failing."

More than half (52%) believe their children receive a better education than they did during their high school years. But another third (31%) feel that children today are getting an education that is worse than their own.

Full report: Back to the Future: Baby Boomers Keeping the Faith in Public Education

Back to the Future: Baby Boomers Keeping the Faith in Public Education, the second in a series of AARP reports looking at the attitudes of Baby Boomers toward American institutions, examines boomer retrospectives on high school. It also looks at their attitudes toward their teachers, their course work, and comparisons of their own high school experience with perceptions of how their children are faring in public high schools today.

"The prevailing media image of high school as a series of trials and embarrassments is not supported by the satisfaction boomers express with their high school educations," said AARP president Jim Parkel. "Most boomers believe their public education prepared them for the next step in their career, whether academic or professional, and that their teachers played an important role in their overall satisfaction with high school.

"And for all the perceived problems associated with public high schools today, it seems that the boomer generation still believes that their children can receive a good education from these public institutions," Parkel said.

Although most boomers (86%) say they were "very" or "somewhat" satisfied with their own high school teachers, fewer (69%) report feeling that way about those teaching in today's high schools. A quarter (25%) of baby boomers reported that drug and alcohol use was a major problem during their high school years, but almost three times as many (70%) say drugs and alcohol represent a major problem in today's high schools. More than half (54%) believe violence and a lack of school safety is a major problem in today's high schools compared to only 7% when they were in school.

Boomers' greatest reported dissatisfaction with their high school education centers on academic concerns with 39% saying they were troubled by academic issues such as class overcrowding, or the type, quality or relevance of courses offered.

The report was based on a national telephone survey of 1,000 baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) fielded by AARP in July 2003. All respondents graduated from a public high school and had at least one child who currently attends or attended a public high school in the past. Respondents were between 39 and 57 years old.

Go to report.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to making life better for people 50 and over. We provide information and resources; engage in legislative, regulatory and legal advocacy; assist members in serving their communities; and offer a wide range of unique benefits, special products, and services for our members. These include AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; Segunda Juventud, our quarterly newspaper in Spanish; NRTA Live and Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators; and our Web site, We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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