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“Public attitudes toward public schools”: an overview of the Phi Delta Kappa / Gallup education poll

September 13, 2011

To many educators who follow scholarly research, the annual survey conducted by Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup is required reading. Phi Delta Kappa International is a professional fraternity dedicated to sharing and learning by professional educators. Many colleges and universities have PDK Chapters across the USA and around the world. Gallup’s involvement in this yearly endeavor brings credibility and objectivity to the survey which is published annually in The Kappan, the organization’s professional journal. The most recent poll published in September of 2011 attempts to collect what Americans have to say this year about America’s public schools, covering such topics as: teaching as a career, unions, salaries, layoffs, quality teaching, choice, e-readers, finances, and perceptions of quality.

According to a Press Release by PDK on August 17, 2011, “Despite low opinions of the nation’s schools, Americans rate their public school teachers more highly now than they have in the past … [m]ore than 70% of Americans say they have trust and confidence in the men and women who are teaching in public schools. Sixty-nine percent of Americans give public school teachers a grade of A or B, compared to only 50% in 1984.”

Going further the press release added: “Although Americans clearly have concerns about education issues, when the poll … asked Americans whether they would encourage the brightest person they know to become a teacher, three of four said they would.” Further, “While the public feels positive about teachers in their communities, it has a less favorable opinion of others involved in education, particularly governors and teacher unions. In fact, nearly one in two Americans believe that teacher unions hurt education. Despite that, slightly more than half of Americans side with teacher union leaders in disputes with governors over collective bargaining.” The number of respondents giving President Obama good marks on education policy is up 7 points from last year to 41%.

Ashley Kincaid, Director of Communications and Marketing for Phi Delta Kappa International, in Bloomington, Indiana, stated, “The survey was conducted from June 4th through June 13th of 2011. Findings are based on 1002 completed telephone interviews sampled by Gallup of adults aged 18 and older drawn from The Gallup Panel. A national cross section of households was sampled across all segments of the population in telephone – owning households.”

The complete survey is published in the September 2011 issue of The Kappan, and at Phi Delta Kappa’s website.

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