50 Years of American Voices


George H. Gallup

5th annual Gallup Poll of Public Attitudes Toward Education

“Professional educators and parents with children now attending public school are more inclined than other respondents to say that not enough is being done to integrate the schools throughout the nation.

“While the overall vote shows slightly more holding the view that less should be done to integrate the schools, it is worth noting that attitudes toward integration are far less antagonistic than attitudes toward busing. The two — integration and busing — should not be confused. While busing is one way to bring about integration, polls have consistently shown an overwhelming majority opposed to achieving integration in this manner. Far too many persons considering this problem confuse ends with means.”

What was happening in American education?

March 21, 1973: In San Antonio ISD v. Rodriquez, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Texas' public education finance system does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause by failing to distribute funding equally among its school districts.

April 3, 1973: In Robinson v. Cahill, the New Jersey Supreme Court rules that reliance on property taxes to fund schools discriminates against poor districts by violating the state constitution’s guarantee of a “thorough and efficient education.” This decision begins to lay the foundation for what would become the Abbott cases in the 1980s and 1990s.

June 25, 1973: In Norwood v. Harrison, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that states cannot provide free textbooks to segregated private schools established to allow whites to avoid public school desegregation.

1973: Marian Wright Edelman establishes the Children’s Defense Fund.

1973 Children Defense Fund Logo

Children's Defense Fund

What else was happening in the United States?

Jan. 20, 1973: Richard Nixon begins his second term as president.

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President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew at the 1972 Republican National Convention, Aug. 23, 1972. (Nixon Presidential Library)

Jan. 22, 1973: In Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that states cannot prevent a woman from having an abortion during the first six months of pregnancy.

Jan. 27, 1973: U.S. involvement in Vietnam ends with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords.

February to May 1973: The American Indian Movement occupies Wounded Knee, S.D., for 71 days to protest federal government policies toward Native Americans.

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AIM leader Russell Means, left, and assistant U.S. attorney general Kent Frizzell sign settlement of the Wounded Knee problem April 5, 1973, in South Dakota. Looking on left is Frizzell's assistant Richard Helstern and AIM leader Dennis Banks. (AP Photo)

Throughout 1973: The Watergate scandal consumes the Nixon presidency. In April, the president fires White House Counsel John Dean and other key White House staffers H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. In May, televised hearings begin on Capitol Hill. In October, the president fires a series of top legal authorities in an attempt to avoid releasing taped Oval Office conversations. In November, the president tells a group of newspaper editors, “I am not a crook.”

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The Watergate scandal dominated President Richard Nixon's second term. (Nixon Presidential Library)

Oct. 10, 1973: Vice President Spiro Agnew resigns in disgrace after allegations of corruption. He pleads guilty to federal income tax evasion in exchange for charges of political corruption being dropped. Gerald Ford later becomes the first person appointed vice president.

October 1973: The Arab-dominated Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cuts oil exports to the United States because it provided military aid to Israel during the Yom Kippur War. The embargo continues until March 1974.

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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?