50 Years of American Voices


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

The 25th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools

“Americans are well aware of the ‘savage inequalities’ that characterize the funding of U.S. public schools. The public agrees with professionals that differences in funding from state to state and from district to district are largely responsible for the uneven quality of public education in America, and a 2-1 majority states a willingness to pay more taxes to bring schools in poorer states and communities up to standard.”

What was happening in American education?

January 1993: Richard Riley becomes U.S. Secretary of Education. He had been governor of South Carolina and becomes the longest-serving education secretary and the only secretary to serve two terms for the same president.

February 1993: Minneapolis Public Schools hires Public Strategies Group Inc.to run all of its 75 public schools. The company’s CEO, Peter Hutchinson, replaces the district superintendent.

October 1993: The U.S. Department of Education publishes National Excellence: The Case for Developing America’s Talent, which outlines how gifted and talented youth are being neglected by the public schools.

1993 Bookof Virtues

Nov. 1, 1993: Former U.S. Secretary of Education Bill Bennett publishes The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories, which coincides with widespread interest in character education in U.S. schools.

Dec. 10, 1993: Massachusetts becomes the first state to prohibit discrimination against public school students based on sexual orientation.

December 1993: Ambassador Walter Annenberg makes the largest gift to date to public education, a $500-million grant named the Annenberg Challenge.

What else was happening in the United States?

Jan. 21, 1993: William J. Clinton is inaugurated as president of the United States.

Feb. 26, 1993: Terrorists detonate a truck bomb in the parking garage under New York's World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring more than 1,000.

February-April 1993: Branch Davidian leader David Koresh resists arrest, leading to a 51-day standoff with federal agents in Texas. The raid costs the lives of four ATF agents and more than six dozen Branch Davidians, including Koresh, and renews the debate about overreach by federal law enforcement officers.

1993 Clinton signs NAFTA Ap 931208079 Use

U.S. President Bill Clinton signs legislation implementing the North American Free Trade Agreement at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8, 1993. Behind him, from left, are Vice President Al Gore, House Minority Leader Bob Michel of Illinois, and House Speaker Thomas Foley of Washington. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

Dec. 21, 1993: President Bill Clinton signs the "don't ask, don't tell" bill, which allows gay or bisexual individuals to serve in the military as long as they are not open about their sexuality.

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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?