Americans have a number of conflicting viewpoints in their preferences
for investing in schools, going head-to-head on issues like paying for
the education of the children of illegal immigrants, according to the 2012
annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Publics Attitudes Toward the Public
There are clear partisan divides over whether children of illegal
immigrants should receive free public education, school lunches, and
other benefits, with 65 percent of Democrats versus 21 percent of
Republicans favoring it. Overall, support for providing public education
to these children is increasing. Forty-one percent of Americans favor
this, up from 28 percent in 1995.
Americans are also more divided across party lines than ever before in
their support for public charter schools, with Republicans more
supportive (80 percent) than Democrats (54 percent). However, approval
declined overall to 66 percent this year from a record 70 percent last
year. Additionally, the public is split in its support of school
vouchers, with nearly half (44 percent) believing that we should allow
students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public
expense, up 10 percentage points from last year.
Though Americans clearly have opposing stances on many education issues,
when the poll conducted annually by Phi
Delta Kappa International (PDK) in conjunction with Gallup
asked Americans whether they believe common core state standards would
provide more consistency in the quality of education between school
districts and states, 75 percent said yes. In fact, more than half of
Americans (53 percent) believe common core state standards would make
U.S. education more competitive globally.
Ninety-seven percent of the public also agrees that it is very or
somewhat important to improve the nations urban schools, and almost two
of three Americans (62 percent) said they would pay more taxes to
provide funds to improve the quality of urban schools. Eighty-nine
percent of Americans agree that it is very or somewhat important to
close the achievement gap between white students and black and Hispanic
And though Americans are almost evenly split in their support for
requiring that teacher evaluations include how well students perform on
standardized tests, with 52 percent in favor, they are in agreement
about increasing the selectivity of teacher preparation programs. In
fact, at least three of four Americans believe that entrance
requirements into teacher preparation programs need to be at least as
selective as those for engineering, business, pre-law, and pre-medicine.
While Americans are divided on many issues regarding the direction of
our education system, they stand united in agreement on some very
important issues, said William Bushaw, executive director of PDK
International and co-director of the PDK/Gallup poll. Most important,
it is reassuring to know that, despite the recognition that our schools
need improvement, more than 70 percent of Americans do have trust and
confidence in our public school teachers.
The 2012 poll also reveals that President Barack Obama holds a slight
lead (49 percent) over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (44
percent) as the candidate who would strengthen public schools. Overall,
50 percent of Americans view the Democratic party as more interested in
improving public education in the U.S., while 38 percent view the
Republican party as more supportive.
PDK, a global association of education professionals, has conducted this
poll with Gallup annually since 1969. The poll serves as an opportunity
for parents, educators, and legislators to assess public opinion about
public schools. The 2012 findings are based on telephone interviews
conducted in May and June 2012 with a national sample of 1,002 American
More poll data is available at www.pdkpoll.org.