The latest Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll on public education shows Americans continue to strongly support their public schools, want rigorous teacher evaluations, support Common Core standards, and are divided about the concept of school choice.
By a considerable margin, the poll showed that a lack of funding is viewed as the biggest challenge facing public schools, cited by 35 percent of Americans and 43 percent of public school parents. The survey’s authors noted that only 23 percent of Americans saw funding as a problem in 2002, the same year that 39 percent cited fighting, gang violence, and drugs as the largest issue in public schools. Only 14 percent of Americans cited those factors as problems in 2012.
Half of the Americans polled said they believe Common Core standards will improve the quality of education in their communities (including 46 percent of those identified as Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats, and 43 percent of Independents).
And for the first time in 10 years, support for charter schools dipped slightly, with 66 percent of Americans overall supporting the schools. But 44 percent of Americans approve of vouchers for private schools, a 10 percentage point jump from last year’s all-time low of 34 percent. And 70 percent of Americans favor giving parents of children in failing schools the option of mounting a petition to remove the administrators and teachers.
In a separate poll conducted by Gallup on the No Child Left Behind Act, more Americans said the law and its testing and accountability requirements have made education worse rather than better. Twenty-nine percent said the law has made school worse, 16 said better, and 38 percent said it hasn’t made much of a difference. Gallup’s annual Work and Education Poll, released Aug. 20, has shown similar results in recent years.