50 Years of American Voices


George H. Gallup

1st annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools

The first PDK poll, "How the Nation Views the Public Schools: A Study of the Public Schools of the United States," is distinctive because the authors of the poll wrote questions with the expectation that they were laying the foundation for future polls.

Although the first poll carries only George Gallup’s byline, the questions were the result of the combined thinking of Gallup, Charles F. (Chuck) Kettering II, and Edward Brainard.

Funded by CFK Ltd., a foundation created by Kettering, the first poll is titled How the Nation Views the Public Schools: A Study of the Public Schools of the United States. The entire first poll is available through ERIC at https://files.eric.ed.gov/full...

What was happening in American education?

Feb. 24, 1969: In Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the U.S. Supreme Court decides that students and teachers do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."

1969 Tinker (Getty 515103084)

Mary Beth Tinker and her brother, John, display two black armbands, the objects of the U.S. Supreme Court's agreement to hear arguments on how far public schools may go in limiting the wearing of political symbols. (Getty Images)

June 1969: The publication of Herbert Kohl's The Open Classroom launches a movement for student-centered learning. The conservative back-to-basics movement of the 1970s is a response to this.

1969 Sesame Street


November 1969: Sesame Street debuts on public television.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) — the Nation’s Report Card — does its first national assessment.

What else was happening in the United States?

Jan. 20, 1969: Richard M. Nixon is inaugurated as the 37th president of the United States.

May 1969: Chicago teachers go on strike for the first time in the city’s history. The strike was resolved after one day when teachers agreed to an increase in salary of $100 a month, raising starting pay of teachers to $8,400. The contract also guaranteed regularly assigned teachers wouldn't be dismissed, established the maximum allowed students in each course, and guaranteed that no educational programs would be eliminated.

June 28, 1969: The Stonewall riots in New York City mark the beginning of the gay rights movement in the United States.

1969 Neil Armstong Apollo 11 Use

Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 mission. (Apollo Archive)

July 20, 1969: Neil Armstrong makes “one giant leap for mankind” when he is the first man to walk on the moon.

Aug. 15, 1969: Woodstock Music & Art Fair in upstate New York attracts about 400,000 people and becomes a pivotal moment for the counterculture generation.

Throughout 1969: Numerous antiwar protests occur around the country. Student and community protesters create the People’s Park in Berkeley, Calif. Students take over the administration building at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. On Oct. 29, a massive march in Washington, D.C., attracts 500,000 protesters.

December 1969: The Selective Service System has the first draft lottery since World War II to determine the order in which military-eligible men will be called to service.

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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?