50 Years of American Voices


George H. Gallup

7th annual Gallup Poll of Public Attitudes Toward Education

“Presumably, the home and the church are the proper places to give children instruction in morals and moral behavior. But in the absence of such instruction in many homes, the responsibility shifts, unfairly perhaps, to the schools. At least to meet the present need, an overwhelming majority of all major groups in the population would like to see such instruction provided by the schools. And, significantly, one of the groups most in favor is that composed of parents of children now attending public schools.

“The constitutional prohibition against religious instruction in the public schools could lead to legal difficulties in the teaching of morals and moral behavior. It has been suggested, however, that one effective and legal way to deal with moral behavior is by the case-history method. Dealing with true instances of children who have been confronted with specific problems could provide a better understanding of the law and why moral behavior is important. Equally important, preaching and moralizing could be avoided if this method were followed.”

What was happening in American education?

Jan. 22, 1975: In Goss v. Lopez, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that school districts cannot deprive students of their due process rights during school disciplinary proceedings.

March 1975: The U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare reports a steady decline in reading skills in the past decade.

1975 Newsweek Cov Copyright


November 1975: The College Entrance Examination Board forms a panel to study a 12-year decline in SAT scores after the scores show the biggest drop in two decades.

Dec. 8, 1975: Newsweek article “Why Johnny Can’t Write” reaches a broad audience and is said to encourage the back-to-basics movement.

In 1975: Marva Collins opens Westside Preparatory School on Chicago’s South Side and attracts national attention for her insistence that poor, black children could learn at high levels.

Nov. 29, 1975: The Education for All Handicapped Children Act requires all public schools receiving federal funds to provide equal access to education for all children regardless of their disabilities.

What else was happening in the United States?

1975: Former U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell and former White House aidesH.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman are found guilty in the Watergate scandal and sentenced to between 30 months and eight years in prison.

Feb. 23, 1975: In response to the energy crisis, Daylight Saving Time starts two months early in the United States.

April 4, 1975: Bill Gates and Paul Allen launch Microsoft (for microprocessors and software).

May 23, 1975: Congress passes legislation to allow 130,000 refugees from South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to enter the U.S. on special status.

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President Gerald Ford is shielded by the Secret Service after an assassination attempt Sept. 15, 1975, by Lynette (Squeaky) Fromme in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/The Sacramento Bee)

Sept. 18, 1975: Patricia Hearst is captured in San Francisco, 19 months after she is kidnapped.

Oct. 11, 1975: “Saturday Night Live” premieres on NBC with comedian George Carlin as the first host.

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George Coe, left, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner and Michael O'Donoghue star in the "Bee Hospital" skit during the first episode of "Saturday Night Live" on Oct. 11, 1975. (Getty Images)

Nov. 10, 1975: The Edmund Fitzgerald freighter sinks in a Lake Superior storm, killing all 29 crew on board. The sinking is later immortalized in a song by Gordon Lightfoot, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

Nov. 26, 1975: After initially refusing to bail out deficit-ridden New York City, President Gerald Ford agrees to support legislation that would extend loans so the city could avoid bankruptcy. In exchange, New York City fires thousands of police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other public employees in an austerity move.

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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?