50 Years of American Voices

1998

Author:
Lowell C. Rose and Alec M. Gallup

The 30th annual PDK/Gallup Poll
of the Public’s Attitudes Toward
the Public Schools

“The public is deeply divided over the issue of funds going directly to private or church-related schools. Responses split almost evenly when the question implies that the public would pay all of the costs. The opposition seems to lessen when public schools are listed as a part of the choice option and when the funding provided pays only part of the cost. Tax credits for parents who send their children to private or church-related schools are supported by the public, but that support is greater if the credit covers only part of the tuition. Moreover, funding for private or church-related schools is conditioned on the willingness of those schools to be accountable in the same way the public schools are accountable.

“The findings appear to guarantee that the issue of public funding for church-related schools will be a battleground for the foreseeable future. The public's willingness to consider aid to private and church-related schools in various forms will certainly encourage those who want to see such aid provided. By the same token, the public's seeming unwilling-ness to provide all of the tuition involved in such programs reinforces the belief of opponents of such aid that the ‘haves’ will be the ones who can take advantage of such programs and that the ‘have-nots’ will be the ones left behind. The battle would seem to be joined along those lines.” 

What was happening in American education?

1998 Academic Standards Ts 497116064

Thinkstock

1998: Almost every state has implemented or is in the process of implementing academic standards for math and reading.

June 1998: California voters approve Proposition 227, which outlaws bilingual education in the state’s public schools.

What else was happening in the United States?

1998 Ap 98121101639

President Bill Clinton walks to the podium to deliver a statement on the impeachment inquiry in the Rose Garden of the White House on Dec. 11, 1998. He apologized for his conduct and said he would accept a congressional censure or rebuke. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

1998: The Monica Lewinsky scandal erupts in January 1998, ultimately leading to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton by year’s end. He was acquitted by the Senate in February 1999.

Feb. 10, 1998: Maine becomes the first state to repeal a law (passed in 1997) protecting gay men and lesbians from discrimination.

Aug. 4, 1998: Amazon announces that it will begin selling more than books.

Sept. 4, 1998: Two Stanford University doctoral candidates Larry Page and Sergey Brin start Google.

October 1998: Matthew Shepard is murdered near Laramie, Wyo., and becomes a symbol for gay bashing and homophobia.


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We welcome your conversation about the poll results and the other information we’ve assembled here. What did we forget? What do you remember about this year? How do you think the events of this year influenced the responses to our questions?