The 39th Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll Of the Public’s Attitudes Toward The Public Schools

Source: Lowell C. Rose and Alec M. Gallup, September 2007

The 39th poll comes at a time when K-12 schooling is near the top of the agenda in state and national policy discussions, and efforts to improve student achievement dominate those discussions. Chief among the improvement efforts is No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the sweeping federal initiative. Given the importance of this law and the fact that the poll was founded on the belief that public support is a vital component of shaping effective education policy, it is appropriate to open this report with the public’s reaction to NCLB and its principal strategy, standardized testing.

As it has grown in importance, the PDK/Gallup Poll has fueled debate regarding K-12 schooling, and charges of bias are routine. With that in mind, we have gradually reshaped the poll report to make it user-friendly and to draw the reader into the analysis of the data. We report the data, state what we believe they say, and leave it to the reader to reach his or her own conclusions.

In this year’s report, the statements following a table and designated as “Findings” are in the nature of summaries that we believe offer a fair interpretation of the data. Statements designated as “Conclusions” are highlighted because we think they capture the most significant of the poll results. These are offered as topics for debate. In the end, our aim is to let the data speak for themselves.

The PDK/Gallup polls provide a snapshot of the public’s assessment of its schools and the challenges they face, as well as a measure of what the public will and will not support in terms of program initiatives. Such information can be invaluable in the ongoing policy debates regarding our public schools. However, that information will not be remotely useful unless school leaders consider the implications of the public’s views for the operation of the schools. School leaders can bring to bear on school policy the common sense and practical wisdom that were missing from the creation of No Child Left Behind. Here, we offer seven implications of the 2007 PDK/Gallup Poll.

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