EdMedia Commons Archive

New Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll Finds Nation Divided On Education Issues

William Bushaw, co-director of the 2012 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll on the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, will be answering questions throughout the day via EdMedia Commons. Please post your questions in the comments section of this discussion thread. For more on the poll, read EWA’s The Educated Reporter.

By Mikhail Zinshteyn, EWA

Americans believe lack of school funding is the biggest issue facing public schools but balancing the federal budget should take priority, according to a new Phi Delta Kappa/ Gallup Poll on public attitudes toward education.

The poll collected impressions on issues all along the education waterfront, with topics ranging from public financial support for undocumented immigrants to closing the achievement gap to job readiness.

Public support for children of undocumented residents is at 41 percent, though results vary by party affiliation and region. Americans living in Western states were almost split—48 percent in favor versus 52 percent against—on providing free public education and benefits to “children of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.” Among Midwestern residents, support drops to 29 percent. Still, public attitudes have shifted considerably since 1995, when nationally only 28 percent supported free public education for children of undocumented residents.

Most Americans believe the Common Core standards will improve public education, but Democrats (60 percent) are more optimistic than Republicans (46 percent). Those polled feel the standards will improve U.S. competitiveness globally (53 percent), but the gap between Democrats and Republicans is 21 percent.

A large majority of Americans believe high school dropouts are not prepared for the workplace, but 54 percent agree that college graduates are ready. There is less confidence among Americans that high school graduates are prepared for college; 33 percent agree that they are ready.

Those polled have strong support for America’s teaching force, with 71 percent agreeing they have trust and confidence in teachers. Still, 57 percent say entrance requirements into the teaching profession should be more rigorous.

Support for charter schools is also high, with 66 percent of those polled favoring that form of public schooling. While fewer than half of Americans favor private school vouchers at the taxpayer’s expense, attitudes have shifted considerably in just one year; in 2011, 34 percent were in favor while this year, 44 percent support that brand of education reform.

The poll results were based on 1,002 completed interviews with individuals 18 years of age or older. The samples were weighted to be representative of U.S. adults nationwide. Polling was conducted between May 7 and June 10.

This post originally appeared on EWA’s now-defunct online community, EdMedia Commons. Old content from EMC will appear in the Ed Beat archives.