50 Years of American Voices


Alec M. Gallup

The 18th annual Gallup Poll
of the Public’s Attitudes
Toward the Public Schools

What was happening in American education?

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May 1986: "A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century" says a more professional teaching force is necessary to improve student success. This report lays the groundwork for the development of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which starts in 1987.

July 7, 1986: In Bethel School District v. Fraser, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that schools can restrict vulgar and lewd student speech during a school assembly.

June 1986: High school student in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” devises a sophisticated plan to give himself a day away from school.

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Challenger pilot Mike Smith, teacher Christa McAuliffe, mission specialist Ellison Onizuka and payload specialist Gregory Jarvis walk to the launch pad Jan. 28, 1986, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

What else was happening in the United States?

Jan. 20, 1986: Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed for the first time.

Jan. 28, 1986: The space shuttle Challenger (carrying teacher Christa McAuliffe) explodes 73 seconds into flight.

November 1986-spring 1987: Iran-Contra affair threatens to undermine Reagan presidency.

Oct. 9, 1986: Fox Broadcasting launches.

Share “1986”:


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?