Gallup Poll: Majority of Americans dissatisfied with public schools, rank private schools the highest

Gallup recently asked Americans to rate the quality of schools in the U.S. by ranking Independent private schools, Parochial or church-related schools, Charter schools, Public schools, and Home schools . Although most American students attend traditional public schools, the majority of respondents to the survey rank those schools below private schools, religious schools, and charter schools.


The poll also broke the results down by party preference and found that while Democrats are more optimistic about public schools than Republicans and Independents, they still ranked them at the bottom for school quality when compared to private schools, religious schools, and charter schools.

The poll also found a disconnect between parents’ overall perception of U.S. schools and satisfaction with their own schools. Only 44 percent of respondents stated that they are satisfied with the overall quality of U.S. education. However,  75 percent of parents stated that they are satisfied with their own school.

Find the whole Gallup poll here.

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  1. Charlie Mas September 3, 2012

    This survey measures the effectiveness of Education Reform groups to convince the American public that our public schools are no good.

    You will note that among the people who have any real basis for an opinion, parents of school children, 75% stated that they are satisfied with their child’s school. The dissatisfaction with public schools is primarily among those who are getting their knowledge from the Education Reform propaganda machine.

  2. Dylan Dentremont September 4, 2012

    “The hard truth,” Secretary Duncan said at Tuesday’s PISA announcement, “is that other high-performing nations have passed us by during the last two decades…In a highly competitive knowledge economy, maintaining the educational status quo means America’s students are effectively losing ground.” (from the US DOE blog)

    Our public schools ARE good, the issue is that they are not getting any better. As other countries increase their ability to effectively educate their citizens, we continue to backslide relative to the rest of the world. This fact that Americans are dissatisfied with public education is no feat of education reform groups, with the possible exception that they have helped make these facts more well-known than they were before.

    I know comments have been made about you before, regarding whether or not someone who is not “directly affected” by education policy (meaning they are the parent of a school-age child) should have a say in the debate. The truth is this; every single person in America is affected by the public education system. We either went through it, put our kids through it, are employed by someone who went through it, or maybe we will someday employ someone who went through it. The economic vitality of our nation, something which certainly affects all people in this country one way or another, is closely linked to the effectiveness of our education system.

    I am gravely disapointed that you would say that the parents of school children are the only group that has a basis for an opinion. Is it ok for 75% of parents to be satisfied with their child’s school when less than 70% of those children will graduate? (Edweek, US Graduation Rate Continues Decline) Sounds like maybe some of them are being misled about the effectiveness of their schools…

    I don’t think the “education reform propaganda machine” created the problems in our public education system. Besides, there are plenty of organizations and websites that publish stories about the corruption and broken promises of our own systems who would not consider themselves to be part of the “propaganda machine.”

    • Charlie Mas September 5, 2012

      I agree with Mr. Dentremont. Our schools are not getting better. In particular, they aren’t getting better at serving the students who are challenging to teach. We do a fine job with motivated, able-bodied, English-speaking students who are well-prepared and well-supported at home. The problem with our schools lies in their inability to bridge any gap in broad base of support that students need to succeed. Our lay out a banquet of educational opportunity, but the table is six feet off the floor and can only be reached by kids who have someone to hold them up to it. We need to bridge the gap and deliver not only the banquet, but the support needed to access it.

      In a lot of other ways, however, our schools ARE getting better. The high school graduation rates are climbing and the high school graduation requirements are climbing as well. Washington students will need three years of high school math to graduate – I didn’t need to take Advanced Algebra to graduate high school. Many high schools require only 20 or 21 credits for a diploma and the State Board will soon set the requirement at 24. Our students are learning things that weren’t even known when I was in school.

      I have the impression that the low opinion of our public schools is due to the relentless media campaign by education reform organizations. You think it is due to the slide in relative international status. We agree that if it were not for the education reform groups people wouldn’t even know about the relative rankings. In truth, neither of us can confirm that we have correctly attributed the cause of the lower ratings.

      You may have me confused with others because, like you, I believe that we all have a stake in our public education system. But the only people surveyed who have first-hand experience with it, and therefore the most credible source for forming a judgement, are the student family members. Their source of information is their daily contact. While others may have sources to inform their opinions they are, at best, second-hand and inherently less credible. If you’re going to suggest that they have, somehow, formed a faulty opinion of their daily reality, then the judgement of the other people surveyed is even more suspect.

      Always a pleasure exchanging ideas with you.

      • Dylan Dentremont September 7, 2012


        Per usual, we agree on more points than we disagree. In particular, your first paragraph is right on the mark!

        Thank you for your clarifying comments in the last paragraph. I have heard comments before from other contributors (not you) along the lines of “you must not have a child” along with the implication that those who do not have children have no place in the education debate. We ALL have a stake in the debate, and I’m glad you make that clear.

        I also agree with you that the opinion of the parents of school-age children is perhaps the most important one, and, perhaps, the most well-informed in on-the-ground education policy. All I meant to imply is that (because we are all so closely linked through this system) we should not necessarily discount the opinions of those who interact with our public education system in a less direct manner. As you said, we all have a stake, and I believe those other opinions to be valuable as well.

        Thanks for the reply, sir, and I look forward to more posts from you here and elsewhere in the coming school year. I cannot think of anyone I would rather debate these topics with. The pleasure was all mine.


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