Poll: Americans Like Public School

ByABC News
August 22, 2000, 9:05 AM

Aug. 22 -- The nations public schools arent so bad after all, and people would rather spend more money improving public education than funding voucher programs to send children to private institutions, a new poll released today says.

The annual poll, conducted by Gallup and Phi Delta Kappa, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving public education, says that 70 percent of parents with children in public school give their childrens school a grade of A or B an improvement of four percentage points from the surveys findings in 1999.

The poll, which surveyed more than 1,000 people by phone in June, also says that just under half of the rest of the country also gives public schools positive marks.

The authors of the poll say that the generally positive feelings people have for public education translate to widespread belief that more effort and resources should be focused on improving public schools, finding that twice as many of those surveyed favor that option to creating an alternative system.

Specifically, the poll says, three-quarters of those polled say they prefer improving the public system, compared to 22 percent who said they would like to see vouchers to use public money for private school. The survey also said it found diminishing support for charter schools schools paid for and run by the public, but set up independent of existing districts and curricula with 47 percent of the public opposing the concept versus 42 percent supporting it.

On issues of whats wrong with schools, the authors of the poll say peoples priorities have changed, saying lack of financial support was cited as this years biggest problem, as opposed to lack of discipline last year.

Most Americans also agree that a teachers salary should be tied to her or his students achievement, the poll says.

Record Enrollment

The study comes a day after federal education officials announced that total U.S. enrollment in elementary and secondary school would reach a record 53 million students this year, and as both presidential candidates have promised to make education a central issue of their campaigns.