What a difference a year DOESN’T make – confidence in America’s public schools remains near record lows.

Last spring I examined Gallup’s extensive trend data regarding Americans’ perceptions of public schools, which revealed the lowest confidence levels recorded since this question was first asked in 1973. While confidence ticked up a few points on the most recent survey (June 2013), just one-in-three (32{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) adults say they have a great deal of confidence or quite a lot of confidence in the country’s public schools. Twice as many (66{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) admit they have just some or very little confidence.

May Charts

The April 2014 NBC/Wall Street Journal survey included a very similar question, asking respondents to rate confidence in public schools on a five point scale. Like the Gallup data, just 29{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Americans said they have either “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of confidence in public schools.

Table 1

Looking more closely at some key demographic subgroups:

  •  Women (33{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} great deal/quite a bit) and younger adults (34{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) express higher levels of confidence in the public education system. Younger women are among the most supportive subgroups, with 37{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} describing themselves as having either “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of confidence in the institution.
  • Four-in-ten (41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) African Americans are confident, compared to just 28{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of white adults and 27{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Hispanic adults.
  • Significant differences emerge by party, with confidence 20 points higher among Democrats (39{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) than Republicans (19{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}). One-quarter (24{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) of Independents say they are confident. Fully, 41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Republicans say they have “very little” or “no confidence at all” in public schools (21{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} among Democrats, 34{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} among Independents).
  • Parents (31{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) view public schools similarly to adults overall.

 

Table 2

 

Interestingly, looking back to the 2007 data when the overall confidence level was nearly identical to where it sits today, there was a remarkable consistency in views across many subgroups. As the table below shows, there were only slight differences in confidence levels by gender, age, ethnicity and even party.

 

Table 3

With Americans’ confidence in public schools only a few points higher than it is in the beleaguered automobile industry (27{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} confident on the same NBC/WSJ study) it is clear that action needs to be taken to reform schools and restore public trust in the institution.

Similar Articles

  • Farm to Fork Initiative Survey Release
    read more

  • Testing the Electoral College: Question Wording Matters
    read more

  • Trump Bump: Americans More Positive About The Direction Of The Country Since Election
    read more

  • Millennials on Snapchat Are Politically Engaged, Following 2016 Race
    read more

  • Congratulations from Public Opinion Strategies
    read more

Public Opinion Strategies helped us to clarify what we wanted to learn and then conducted research and analysis that shed light even beyond the questions we set out to ask. They were very receptive to our suggestions, responsive to our queries, and flexible when we needed them to be.

Public Opinion Strategies has consistently offered unparalleled advice and spot-on polling that has shaped how and where we spent money and deploy key resources. Additionally, they have always been an excellent steward of limited campaign resources, ensuring we spend wisely and not a dollar more than necessary in order to get the information we need.

Robert Blizzard and Public Opinion Strategies did a great job for us throughout our successful campaign for Congress. Robert gave us accurate data, spot on analysis, and professional advice, all of which were essential to our victory.

Public Opinion Strategies is one of our go-to pollsters when it comes to testing public support for bond ballot measures and other initiative proposals. They are available to provide ongoing consultation with regard to crafting of ballot questions, public outreach messaging, and related efforts.

ACLI has worked with Public Opinion Strategies for decades, through several tough industry battles—often ones in which public opinion does not naturally fall on the side of insurers. Yet Bill and his team consistently provide invaluable strategic advice by refining our messages and helping us frame our issues in a way that makes them understandable and persuasive.

The data from Public Opinion Strategies provided important insight and informed our public awareness campaign. We sincerely appreciate their professionalism and expertise in this arena.

Nicole McCleskey and the team at Public Opinion Strategies have been invaluable to me, both during my campaigns and as Governor of the State of New Mexico. It’s not just the accuracy of their numbers, but guiding the overall strategy that makes them so valuable.

Public Opinion Strategies has been a part of our team in Missouri for more than a decade. With their data and guidance, Republicans here were able to attain a majority in the House in 2002 for the first time in fifty years, and we have been able to grow that majority to the point that we now have a record, veto-proof majority.

Lori Weigel from Public Opinion Strategies reviewed our needs and guided us toward asking the right questions. Her reporting was easy to follow and her interpretation of the data provided clear decision points.

In my tenure at two leading business associations, facing huge and complex consumer issues, I have benefitted enormously from the objective advisory skills of Bill and his team. They do their homework, they are rigorous, dispassionate and thoughtful. Turning questions into answers is a clever tag, but it’s also an apt description of the professional talents of the firm.

I consider Public Opinion Strategies to be a part of our team. That is the way we have always worked. They have helped us to understand our needs and fashioned research solutions to meet those needs. They have helped us to meet killer deadlines by being flexible, executing rapidly, and insuring quality. Teamwork is the best way to describe it.

Accuracy, speed, and deep knowledge of key issues and public sentiment are the hallmarks of quality opinion research, and on these measures Public Opinion Strategies consistently delivers. I have had the pleasure of working with Public Opinion Strategies for more than 15 years on dozens of issues, and they are undoubtedly the gold standard.

Public Opinion Strategies’ track record of success and wealth of experience in political campaigns and issue advocacy are why they are one of the most trusted and well respected public opinion firms in Washington, D.C. Their insights and perspectives have helped to inform a wide array of public affairs activities across multiple industries.