50 Years of American Voices


George H. Gallup

The 14th annual PDK Poll
of the Public’s Attitudes Toward
the Public Schools

“Faith in America's future, in the opinion of those sampled in this year's survey, rests more on developing the best educational system in the world than on developing the best industrial system or the strongest military force. An amazing amount of agreement is found on this question. Every major group in the population places education first, our industrial system second, and military strength third in the importance assigned to each in determining America's future place in the world.”

What was happening in American education?

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Gail Sheehy, author of "Passages," at podium, right, reads during the "First Banned Books Read Out" in New York on April 1, 1982. The rally protested censorship by school and public libraries. (AP Photo/Carlos Rene Perez)

June 15, 1982: In Plyler v. Doe, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that states cannot deny a public school education to undocumented school-age immigrant children. The ruling also found that school districts cannot charge tuition fees for the education of these children.

June 25, 1982: In Board of Education v. Pico, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that school administrators cannot remove books from a school library simply because they consider the content offensive.

1982: Madeline C. Hunter's book, "Mastery Teaching," is published. Her teaching model becomes so widely used that teachers refers to themselves as having been "Hunterized."

What was happening elsewhere in the United States?

Feb. 1, 1982: "Late Night with David Letterman" debuts on NBC.

March 5, 1982: Comedian John Belushi dies of a drug overdose.

May 2, 1982: The Weather Channel debuts.

September-October 1982: Seven people in the Chicago area die after ingesting Tylenol capsules laced with potassium cyanide, which prompts new federal anti-tampering laws and reforms for how over-the-counter substances are packaged.

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Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Library of Congress)

Nov. 13, 1982: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., is dedicated.

Nov. 30, 1982: Michael Jackson releases “Thriller,” which becomes the biggest-selling album of all time.

November 1982: Unemployment is the highest since before World War II: 10.8%.

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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?