Confidence in Public Schools Hits New Low

Wednesday, 20 Jun 2012 09:50 AM

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Confidence is our nation’s public schools has hit an all-time low of just 29 percent and views of other key American institutions have declined as well, a new Gallup poll shows. Confidence in public schools dipped five points from last year and is at its lowest point since 1973 when Gallup first surveyed on the question.

When Gallup first asked the question, 58 percent expressed a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in public schools. However, the number has been on the decline since, mostly staying in the 30s for the last 20 years. Public schools are not alone in falling confidence and the survey reports new lows for confidence for religion, 44 percent, banks, 21 percent, and television news, 21 percent.

“Americans' confidence in many of the nation's key institutions remains shaky, including record-low confidence in public schools, banks, television news, and organized religion this year,” Gallup reported. “Since 2008, several other institutions have registered record-low confidence ratings, including Congress, the Supreme Court, HMOs, big business, and organized labor. That means more than half of the institutions Gallup measures annually have hit bottom at some point in the last five years.

“Thus, the declining confidence seems to be part of a broader pattern, rather than a product of isolated issues facing individual institutions. Once Americans begin to feel better about the way things are going in the United States, some of their lost confidence in the country's major institutions will likely be restored.”
Americans report they are most confident in the military, at 75 percent, followed by small business at 63 percent, and then the police, at 56 percent. Those three are the only groups that scored above 50 percent of 16 tested.
Congress ranked the worst, with 13 percent. The presidency and the Supreme Court came in it at 37 percent and banks, big business and organized labor tied at 21 percent.

“More generally, confidence in most of the institutions is below their historical averages. This likely reflects Americans' general state of dissatisfaction with current conditions in the United States,” Gallup reported. “Only the military and the criminal justice system are significantly better than what Gallup has measured historically, while the confidence ratings in HMOs, small business, and the medical system are slightly better.

“Banks are down the most, as this year's 21 percent confidence rating is half of the 42 percent average for banks since Gallup first included them in 1979. Organized religion, public schools, Congress, and television news are all currently at least 10 points lower than their historical average ratings.”
The survey queried 1,004 adults June 7 through 10.

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