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Topic: PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes (Public Schools)
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Jerry P. Becker

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Registered: 12/3/04
PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes (Public Schools)
Posted: Aug 22, 2012 6:03 PM
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From The Phi Delta Kappan - PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes
Toward the Public Schools, September 2012. See
NOTE: The full report is available at for download.
What Americans Said About the Public Schools

EDUCATION VS BUDGET We believe Democrats are more interested than
Republicans in improving education, but not by much. Balancing the
federal budget is more important than improving education.

BULLYING Schools should be involved in disciplining children for
bullying, even if the bullying occurs outside the school day and/or
over the Internet.

TEACHER EVALUATION We're divided on whether student test scores
should be part of a teacher's evaluation.

FINANCES The lack of financial support for public schools is a
bigger problem than discipline and drugs. Overwhelmingly, we believe
"my child is safe at school."

SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT Closing achievement gaps and improving urban
public schools are priorities for most of us - and most of us are
willing to pay more taxes to achieve that goal.

STANDARDS Common core standards will make the U.S. more
competitive, improve schools in our communities, and provide more
consistency between districts within a state and between states.
High-quality standards won't hurt our chances of closing achievement

ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS Children of illegal immigrants should not get
free public education, school lunches, or other benefits.

CONFIDENCE IN TEACHERS Not many would give A's or B's to the
public schools nationally, but most of us have trust and confidence
in public school teachers. And most of us believe we know at least
one public school teacher "very well."

GRADING SCHOOLS We're split down the middle on whether to give
good or bad grades to the public schools in our own community - but
most of us didn't vote in an election that affected our local schools.

POLITICS Even more of us support Barack Obama today than four
years ago - but fewer of us are undecided this year, and we like
Republican Mitt Romney a lot more than we liked John McCain at the
same time four years ago.

Press Release


Ashley Kincaid 703-988-4037,
Kelly Davis 202-955-9450, ext. 318,
Sarah Herring 202-955-9450, ext. 312

44th Annual PDK/Gallup Poll Shows a Nation Divided Over Public Education Issues

Poll reveals conflicts over educating children of illegal immigrants,
school vouchers, teacher evaluations, and which presidential
candidate will most positively influence public education

ARLINGTON, Va. - Americans have a number of conflicting viewpoints in
their preferences for investing in schools, going head-to-head on
issues like paying for the education of the children of illegal
immigrants, according to the 2012 annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the
Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

There are clear partisan divides over whether children of illegal
immigrants should receive free public education, school lunches, and
other benefits, with 65 percent of Democrats versus 21 percent of
Republicans favoring it. Overall, support for providing public
education to these children is increasing. Forty-one percent of
Americans favor this, up from 28 percent in 1995.

Americans are also more divided across party lines than ever before
in their support for public charter schools, with Republicans more
supportive (80 percent) than Democrats (54 percent). However,
approval declined overall to 66 percent this year from a record 70
percent last year. Additionally, the public is split in its support
of school vouchers, with nearly half (44 percent) believing that we
should allow students and parents to choose a private school to
attend at public expense, up 10 percentage points from last year.

Though Americans clearly have opposing stances on many education
issues, when the poll - conducted annually by Phi Delta Kappa
International (PDK) in conjunction with Gallup - asked Americans
whether they believe common core state standards would provide more
consistency in the quality of education between school districts and
states, 75 percent said yes. In fact, more than half of Americans (53
percent) believe common core state standards would make U.S.
education more competitive globally.

Ninety-seven percent of the public also agrees that it is very or
somewhat important to improve the nation's urban schools, and almost
two of three Americans (62 percent) said they would pay more taxes to
provide funds to improve the quality of urban schools. Eighty-nine
percent of Americans agree that it is very or somewhat important to
close the achievement gap between white students and black and
Hispanic students.

And though Americans are almost evenly split in their support for
requiring that teacher evaluations include how well students perform
on standardized tests, with 52 percent in favor, they are in
agreement about increasing the selectivity of teacher preparation
programs. In fact, at least three of four Americans believe that
entrance requirements into teacher preparation programs need to be at
least as selective as those for engineering, business, pre-law, and

"While Americans are divided on many issues regarding the direction
of our education system, they stand united in agreement on some very
important issues," said William Bushaw, executive director of PDK
International and co-director of the PDK/Gallup poll. "Most
important, it is reassuring to know that, despite the recognition
that our schools need improvement, more than 70 percent of Americans
do have trust and confidence in our public school teachers."

The 2012 poll also reveals that President Barack Obama holds a slight
lead (49 percent) over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney
(44 percent) as the candidate who would strengthen public schools.
Overall, 50 percent of Americans view the Democratic party as more
interested in improving public education in the U.S., while 38
percent view the Republican party as more supportive.

Other key findings:

Balancing the federal budget is more important than improving the
quality of education. Sixty percent of Americans believe balancing
the federal budget is more important, even though they said funding
is the biggest problem facing public schools.

Schools should discipline children for bullying. Three of four
Americans believe that bullying prevention should be part of a
school's curriculum, and 58 percent believe schools should
investigate and discipline students when bullying occurs outside of
school, including over the Internet.

Parents want more control over failing schools. Seventy percent of
Americans favor giving parents whose children attend a failing school
the option to mount a petition drive requesting that the teachers and
principal be removed.

Americans view their local schools more favorably than the nation's
schools as a whole. Consistent with recent years, almost half of
Americans give the schools in their community a letter grade of A or
B, while almost 50 percent give a C to the nation's schools.

PDK, a global association of education professionals, has conducted
this poll with Gallup annually since 1969. The poll serves as an
opportunity for parents, educators, and legislators to assess public
opinion about public schools. The 2012 findings are based on
telephone interviews conducted in May and June 2012 with a national
sample of 1,002 American adults.

More poll data will be available at on Aug. 22.

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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