From Record High To Record Low, Americans’ Satisfaction With Education Plummets

Going from record high to record lows, a Gallup survey shows that satisfaction in American education has plummeted in the past three years.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Public schooling is inconsistent all across America. It is now widely known just how much the pandemic interfered with decades worth of gains in American education, which has driven a decline in trust. In 2019, the nation’s satisfaction with schools was at an all-time high. Today, that same measurement of approval has plummeted to a record low. 

Gallup, a globally recognized leading public opinion polling company, has been surveying U.S. citizens’ contentment with American education for more than two decades. In its newly released annual survey, it was revealed that overall satisfaction plunged to 42%, down from 51% in 2019. Despite this nationwide downward spiral, there are other factors found in the survey that show the perplexing notion of American academia. 

Republican pollers drove the approval rating of American education down. When taking political affiliation into factor, Democrats and democratic-leaning individuals remained steadfast in their previous positions. But across the board, conservatives conveyed a drop in trust. 

This was a drastic change in trajectory from 2017-2020 when Americans from both parties held similar levels of satisfaction with American education. At that time, Republicans averaged out at a 46% approval rate, close behind Democrats at 50%. For this year, while Democrats’ acceptance remained within similar percentiles, Republicans nosedived to 30%. 

Despite the drop in trust in American education as a whole, parents remain satisfied with their own child’s education, despite political affiliation. There is little insight into why this may be. But given the push to involve politics, and make a pivotal talking point for politicians seeking to sway a certain demographic of the public’s votes, this could be driving the lack of systemic trust, while keeping personal views steady. 

This year, Gallup asked respondents to give their reasons for dissatisfaction with American education for the first time. The most widely recited reason for disapproval was due to lesson plans or curriculums being used by schools. A lack of sufficient resources was the second leading cause of displeasure. Politics weaving their way into education rounded out the top factors in third place. 

american education

All three major reasons leading to the decline in satisfaction in American education resonate with serious concerns regarding public schools all across the United States. As for teaching methods being the leading factor, most respondents felt that curriculums were outdated. Likewise, they looked to teaching methods in other countries, and fear that American education is far behind other nations’ standards.

 Also, a look at how schools continue to struggle despite billions of dollars being funneled via COVID relief funds sheds light on a major issue in lack of funding. The Century Foundation estimated in 2020 that public schools were underfunded by more than $150 billion yearly. This means that children aren’t given the needed resources to excel in school, further fueling the decline in approval of the American education system.

Now that it is well-reported how much students across the nation are falling behind, it is no wonder that Americans lose hope on education and its ability to develop successful students. Actions and initiatives are being developed around every turn. But more than likely, it is going to take years of effort to turn the system around and gain back the trust and confidence in public education.