GALLUP: Confidence in public schools turns more partisan

The following is an excerpt from Gallup News.

Americans’ confidence in U.S. public schools remains low, with 28% saying they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the institution, similar to 32% last year. Both figures are down from 41% in 2020, reflecting a brief surge in the early months of the pandemic after registering 29% in 2019.

While all political party groups expressed more confidence than usual in public schools in 2020, Republicans’ confidence has since plunged, while independents’ has dipped and Democrats’ has remained near their pandemic high.

Today’s 29-point gap between Republican and Democratic confidence in public schools contrasts with an average 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.

Half of Republicans Now Have Little to No Faith in Schools

Republicans’ confidence in public schools has been trending down for decades, and it tends to be lower at times when a Democrat is serving as president than when a Republican is in office.

However, the 12-point drop in Republicans’ average level of confidence in public schools between Donald Trump’s presidency (29%) and under President Joe Biden’s (17%) is greater than would be predicted by those factors alone.

Republicans’ recent souring on education was also evident in Gallup’s January Mood of the Nation poll, when the percentage of Republicans satisfied with “the quality of public education in the nation” registered just 20%, down 17 points from the prior year.

While Republicans express low confidence in U.S. public schools, education is not on their minds when asked to name the most important problem facing the country today — only 1% of Republicans in June named education in answer to this open-ended question.

Thus, it remains to be seen if concerns about education spur Republicans to the polls in November — or if other issues, from inflation to abortion to guns, are more prominent in influencing whether and how people vote.

Americans’ confidence in public schools is measured as part of Gallup’s annual survey assessing public confidence in a number of national institutions, with the latest update conducted June 1-20.

Read full survey results here.

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