- Americans’ faith in the public schooling system is approaching its lowest point since opinion tracking began
- Republican satisfaction is at an all-time low, 14 percent, and represents a 20-point drop since 2020
- Florida has led the way in reactionary legislative action, taking steps to ban Critical Race Theory-based curriculum
- Just 28 percent of the general populace expressed satisfaction with the state of public schools in America
Following a surge of favorability across both parties during the pandemic, American confidence in public schools has critically depressed, reaching an all-time low among Republicans, according to a new Gallup poll.
In aggregation, just 28 percent of the general populace expressed satisfaction with the state of public schooling in the United States. 43 percent of Democrats, 29 percent of independents, and just 14 percent of Republicans expressed satisfaction in the ways public school systems are structured and taught.
The number of Republicans who have a great deal or quite a lot of faith in public schools has dropped from 34 percent in 2020 to 20 percent in 2021 and 14 percent now. Since 2020, independents’ trust has dropped nine percentage points to 29 percent, while Democrats’ confidence has stayed relatively strong at 43 percent, compared to 48 percent in 2020.
“Today’s 29-point gap between Republican and Democratic confidence in public schools contrasts with an average of seven points since the start of Gallup’s Confidence in Institutions trend in 1973. Except for a 25-point gap last year, the previous high was 19 points in 2013, likely related to partisan disagreement over the Common Core educational standards at the time,” the accompanying report reads.
Republicans’ trust in public schools has been declining for decades, according to the poll, and tends to be worse when a Democrat is in the White House than when a Republican is. The 12-point reduction in Republicans’ average level of trust in public schools between Donald Trump’s administration (29 percent) and President Joe Biden’s (17 percent) is, however, larger than would be expected based on prior trends.
Republican dissatisfaction with education standards is reflected in the Florida legislature, as politicians have introduced and passed a series of measures to thwart what the party largely sees as unfavorable curricula, like Critical Race Theory and gender fluidity.
“I think what you see now with the rise of this ‘woke’ ideology is an attempt to really delegitimize our history and delegitimize our institutions,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis. “They want to tear the fabric of our society, and our culture, and a lot of things we’ve taken for granted, like the ability of parents to raise their children.”
The actions have proven popular in Florida and across the nation at large. A second poll released this week questioned teachers in battleground states on their opinions of contentious topics lawmakers like DeSantis helped usher into the national limelight.
According to one survey question, Americans are more inclined to vote for politicians who believe public schools should focus less on teaching race and more on fundamental courses by a 32-point margin. By a margin of 27 points, respondents believe that teaching sexual orientation and gender identity to children in kindergarten through third grade should be prohibited in schools. while a majority also believe transgender athletes should be barred from participating in women’s school athletic leagues.
“Americans’ confidence in public schools increased early in the coronavirus pandemic as people rallied around professions that were severely disrupted by the economic shutdown, but that subsided a year ago and confidence has returned to its pre-pandemic level,” the Gallop poll concludes. “At the same time, public education has become more politicized, with Republicans more opposed than Democrats to distance learning and student face mask requirements. Debate has also erupted at the national and local levels over school curricula touching on racism, gender theory, and sexual orientation. Republican-sponsored legislation being passed or debated in numerous states to curtail such curricula has kept these issues at the forefront of party politics, with Florida providing the most prominent example.”