50 Years of American Voices


George H. Gallup

6th annual Gallup Poll of Public Attitudes Toward Education

“Important in dealing with discipline is the question of what to do with the student who is not interested in school work and who, consequently, is prone to be a trouble maker. Many educators have suggested that such students be permitted to leave school rather than waste their time — and that of other students — by remaining in school. The public has not accepted this point of view, chiefly because no agency is prepared to take responsibility for those released from school. … The burden, therefore, rests with the school to develop ways to deal with this problem.

“A plan that would offer a work-study program with one-half day spent in school and the other half at training on the job produces a favorable response from 86% of the general public, 90% of high school juniors and seniors. Giving school credit for volunteer work done during the school day — with an approved organization, such as a local hospital, day-care center, and the like — appeals to a large majority, as do special school programs designed especially for students with out-of-the-ordinary interests and talents.

“The schools of the nation have a green light to devise programs that will permit high school students to spend a great deal of their time outside the school with on-the-job training or doing the kind of volunteer work that will lead to a job. But the schools must be responsible for executing the plan and seeing to it that students don't use the plan as a way of escaping from work — either in school or on the job.”

What was happening in American education?

Jan. 21, 1974: In Lau v. Nichols, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the San Francisco Unified School District has violated the Civil Rights Act because it failed to provide sufficient language instruction in English for non-English speakers. The court says that simply providing students with the same textbooks, desks, and teachers was insufficient and that the district needed to take steps to ensure that English was taught to non-English-speaking students.

June 21, 1974: U.S. District Judge W. Arthur Garrity orders busing of black students to predominantly white schools as a way to desegregate the Boston Public Schools. White parents protest, especially in South Boston.

1974 Busing Ap 21356156679 Use

In this Dec. 12, 1974 file photo, White students who walked out of Boston's Hyde Park High School stand along the curb and jeer school buses carrying Black students home from the school on Dec. 12, 1974. (AP Photo/Frank C. Curtin)

1974 Al Shanker Loc 3F05880V Free

Al Shanker (Library of Congress)

July 25,1974: In Milliken v. Bradley, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that suburbs are not responsible for segregation in the Detroit Public Schools and that the courts cannot draw boundary lines between a city and its surrounding suburbs to achieve racial balance.

Aug. 21, 1974: Congress passes the Equal Educational Opportunities Act, which prohibits discrimination against faculty, staff, and students, including racial discrimination against students, and requires school districts to remove barriers to students’ equal participation.

Aug. 21, 1974: Al Shanker is elected president of the American Federation of Teachers.

What else was happening in the United States?

1974 Nixon Resignation

President Richard Nixon departs the White House on Marine/Army One for the last time as president Aug. 9, 1974. (Nixon Presidential Library)

Feb. 4, 1974: The Symbionese Liberation Army kidnaps heiress Patricia Hearst from her home.

Aug. 9, 1974: Richard Nixon avoids being removed from office following his impeachment when he becomes the first American president to resign. Gerald Ford becomes president.

Sept. 8, 1974: President Gerald Ford pardons Richard Nixon of any crimes he may have committed while in office.

Dec. 21, 1974: The New York Times reveals illegal domestic spying by the CIA.

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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?