Gallup: confidence in public schools is dropping

I meant to post this news when it first came out, but my Alaska adventure intervened. This year’s Gallup poll of public confidence in various institutions revealed that:

Americans’ confidence in public schools is down five percentage points from last year, with 29% expressing “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in them. That establishes a new low in public school confidence from the 33% measured in Gallup’s 2007 and 2008 Confidence in Institutions polls. The high was 58% the first time Gallup included public schools, in 1973.

So far education hasn’t featured very prominently in the presidential election campaign. President Obama’s in a tricky position: His administration’s push (via Race to the Top funds) for loosening restrictions on charter schools and tying teacher evaluations to student performance has not gone over especially well with teachers’ unions, usually a core Democratic constituency. Governor Romney’s in a tricky position, too: His education proposals look a lot like President Obama’s.

There is one big difference between the two candidates. Governor Romney has come out in support of voucher programs, including the very popular (and successful) D.C. voucher program that the Obama administration has repeatedly and unsuccessfully sought to strike from the budget.

So do will declining confidence in public schools translate into increasing support for an array of school choice initiatives? Certainly that seems to be happening in many states. While Utah voters rejected vouchers for low-income students, several other states are moving ahead with this idea. I’ll report on what’s happening around the country in upcoming blogs.

Meanwhile, have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

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