Obama losing public support on education issues, new poll finds

President Obama and Arne Duncan (ed.gov)


Anybody paying attention to the roiling education reform debate won’t be especially surprised by the results of a well-regarded annual poll: Support for President Obama on education issues is waning — with only 27 percent giving him an A or B — and a majority of the public saying they oppose the Common Core State Standards and have more trust in their local school board than in the federal government when it comes to deciding what students should learn.

Obama and his education secretary, Arne Duncan, came into office in 2009 with reform agenda that included using standardized test scores to evaluate educations, promoting common standards across states and increasing the number of charter schools. According to the poll, support for Obama in education has fallen every year since 2011.

gallup graphic obama


The newly released 46th annual PDK-Gallup poll, which for decades has been seen as presenting a solid picture of where public sentiment lies on public education issues, also reveals a growing distrust of the federal government when it comes to education issue.  A majority of Americans cite the biggest problem facing public schools today as lack of financial support.

PDK, a global association of education professionals, has conducted this poll with Gallup every year since 1969. Interviews with a nationally representative sample of Americans, with a sub-sample of public school parents, were conducted last May and June

As has been seen in the past in this poll, Americans give relatively high marks to their local public schools but not the nation’s public school system in general: Fifty  percent gave their local schools a grade of “A” or “B” and 56 percent said their local school board should have the greatest influence in deciding what is taught, while only  15 percent thought the federal government should have the most influence. Yet only 17 percent gave the public school system an A or B.

Other findings include:

*Sixty percent of the general public and 62 percent of public school parents polled said they opposed the Common Core State Standards. In a related finding, 47 percent of the general public and 63 percent of public school parents said they know a lot or a fair amount about the Common Core State Standards.

*Fifty-four percent of the general public and 68 percent of public school parents polled said they do not believe that standardized tests are helpful to teachers.

*Only 15 percent of Americans said the federal government should decide what students learn in school, while 56 percent said their local school board.

gallup graphic feds


*A majority of Americans support charter schools, but the percentages are different depending on how the question is asked. These charts show the differences:

gallup graphic charter

*Fifty-seven percent of polled Americans, however, said that charters can charter tuition, though they are not legally allowed to do so.

*Lack of financial support is cited as the biggest problem facing public schools.

gallup graphic problems


*Sixty-three percent of polled Americans said they oppose giving public money for students to attend private schools — down from 70 percent in 2013.  The description of the question essentially laid out the private voucher system but did not use the word vouchers.

gallup graphic vouchers




Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · August 19, 2014