50 Years of American Voices


Stanley M. Elam, Lowell C. Rose, and Alec M. Gallup

The 23rd annual Gallup Poll
of the Public’s Attitudes
Toward the Public Schools

“The strategy announced by the Bush Administration last spring for achieving six national goals for education by the year 2000 receives strong public support . . . even stronger than the goals themselves received in last year's poll. Americans remain highly doubtful, however, that the six goals, first announced in February 1990, can be attained by the target date. In addition, most of the specific measures for public school improvement endorsed by the Bush Administration receive strong support from the U.S. public.”

What was happening in American education?

January 1991: Lamar Alexander becomes U.S. Secretary of Education. He had been a governor of Tennessee and president of the University of Tennessee.

Jan. 15, 1991: In Board of Education of Oklahoma City Public Schools v. Dowell, the U.S. Supreme Court authorizes ending a desegregation order and allowing the district to return to a system of neighborhood schools even if the change in policy would create resegregation.

1991 New Am Schools 20404865

(Kappan article)

June 1991: Congress establishes the National Council on Education Standards and Testing to explore the feasibility of creating national education standards and a method for doing so.

Summer 1991: Xerox Corp. David Kearns organizes the business community to found New American Schools, a public-private partnership to develop and share research-based school improvement strategies. Its goal is to create 535 New American schools, one in each Congressional district, to demonstrate new ways of teaching and learning.

1991: SMART Technologies introduces the first interactive whiteboard.

What else was happening in the United States?

Jan. 17, 1991: Operation Desert Storm begins with airstrikes against Iraq.

March 1991: Los Angeles police are indicted for the March 3 beating of Rodney King during an arrest.

Oct. 15, 1991: The U.S. Senate confirms Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court in spite of accusations by Anita Hill that he had sexually harassed her while she worked for him.

Dec. 25, 1991: Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as president of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Soviet Union dissolves, effectively ending the Cold War.

1991 Soviet Union Ap 16356507163378 Use

The Soviet flag flies over the Kremlin at Red Square in Moscow, Russia, on Dec. 21, 1991. (AP Photo/Gene Berman)

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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?