50 Years of American Voices


George H. Gallup

9th annual Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools

“The decline in national test scores and frequent media reports of illiteracy among high school graduates have given impetus to what is now widely referred to as the back-to basics movement.”

What was happening in American education?

April 19, 1977: In Ingraham v. Wright, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that reasonable physical punishment of students who misbehave does not violate the Constitution.

May 23, 1977: In Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that unions can require fees from nonmembers. The decision also establishes the rule that nonmember fees cannot go to political activities.

July 1977: A study of the decline in SAT scores points to a variety of factors underlying that change: greater diversity of students taking the exam, the expansion in the number of electives in high schools, and less attention on the so-called basics.

What else was happening in the United States?

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Chief Justice Warren E. Burger administers the oath of office to Jimmy Carter at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 20, 1977. (Architect of the Capitol photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

Jan. 20, 1977: Jimmy Carter is inaugurated as the 39th president of the United States.

Jan. 21, 1977: President Jimmy Carter pardons most Vietnam War draft evaders.

January 1977: For eight consecutive nights, the miniseries “Roots,”which shows the effects of slavery on the United States, is broadcast on national television.

May 25, 1977: “Star Wars” is released.

June 7, 1977: Singer Anita Bryant leads Save Our Children campaign to defeat a local ordinance in Dade County, Fla., that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Aug. 16, 1977: The king of rock ’n’ roll, Elvis Presley, dies.

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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?