Friday, July 12, 2013

Americans’ confidence or lack thereof in institutions

Every year, the Gallup organization conducts a poll on the level of confidence Americans have in institutions. For the 4th consecutive year, Congress is at the bottom of the list with a confidence rating of 10 percent (down from 13 percent in 2012).

Pollsters stated, “I am going to read you a list of institutions in American society. Please tell me how much confidence you, yourself, have in each one—a great deal, quite a lot, some or very little?”

Here are some of the results from the 2013 poll sorted by most confidence to least confidence (based on “a great deal” and “quite a lot” percentages combined).

The Military
76%
Small business  
65%
Police
57%
Church or organized religion
48%
The presidency
37%
The medical system
35%
U.S. Supreme Court        
34%
Public schools
32%
(up from 29% in 2012)
The criminal justice system
28%
Banks
26%
Television news               
23%
Newspapers
23%
Big business
22%
Organized labor               
20%
HMOs
19%
Congress
10%
                               
While the Congressional rankings are no surprise to educators given the lack of progress Congress has been able to make on reauthorization of major education bills, I do think educators should look at the rankings for public schools. It is a concern that only 32 percent of Americans polled have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in our public schools.

PDK/Gallup Poll
Another poll that has been taken for many years is the annual PDK and Gallup poll on education. For years, the results of this poll have revealed the interesting finding that public school parents and Americans grade their children’s schools and local schools very high, however, when we ask about schools in general, the ratings dip significantly.

Here are some select questions from the 2012 PDK/Gallup poll on education.

Students are often given the grades A, B, C, D, or Fail to denote the quality of their work. Suppose the public schools themselves in your community were graded in the same way. What grade would you give the public schools here — A, B, C, D, or Fail?

National Totals (shown in percentages)

2012
2007
2002
1997
1992
A & B
48
45
47
46
40
A
12
9
10
10
9
B
36
36
37
36
31
C
31
34
34
32
33
D
13
14
19
11
12
Fail
4
5
3
6
5

Using the A, B, C, D, and Fail scale again, what grade would you give the school your oldest child attends?

Public School Parents (shown in percentages)

2012
2007
2002
1997
1992
A & B
77
67
71
64
64
A
37
19
27
26
22
B
40
48
44
38
42
C
16
24
20
23
24
D
6
5
6
7
6
Fail
0
3
2
4
4

What grade would you give the public schools nationally — A, B, C, D, or Fail?
 National Totals (shown in percentages)

2012
2007
2002
1997
1992
A & B
19
16
24
22
18
A
1
2
2
2
2
B
18
14
22
29
16
C
47
57
47
48
48
D
23
18
13
15
18
Fail
7
5
3
6
4

What are the implications for local schools/districts and state education agencies? The major implication is that communication about progress schools are making and the great things happening in public schools must expand beyond parents and local communities. Americans are bombarded by many of the negatives about schools -- low test scores, dropout rates, shootings in schools, and the like. We must do a better job about communicating our successes.

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