50 Years of American Voices


Lowell C. Rose and Alec M. Gallup

The 32nd annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools

“This year’s Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll shows again what previous polls have shown: The notion that the public is dissatisfied with its public schools is based on myth instead of fact. Respondents continue to indicate a high level of satisfaction with their local schools, a level of satisfaction that this year approaches its all-time high among the parents whose children attend those schools. Seven in 10 public school parents now assign the school their oldest child attends an A or a B.

“Public satisfaction is also evident in the fact that 59% of Americans believe that reforming the existing system of public schools, rather than seeking an alternative system, is the best way to bring about school improvement. When given the specific choice, 75% would improve and strengthen existing public schools while just 22% would opt for vouchers, the alternative most frequently mentioned by public school critics.”

2000 Phonics

April 2000: The National Reading Panel recommends that explicit instruction in phonics should be part of every child’s education, a finding that energized the back-to-basics movement that had resisted the “whole language” movement in reading.

June 19, 2000: In Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that student-led prayer over a public address system violates the separation of church and state.

Nov. 7, 2000: Michigan voters reject ballot initiative to amend the state constitution and allow tuition vouchers for use at private schools. On the same day, California voters also reject a proposition to make annual state payments of $4,000 per pupil for private and religious school students.

What else was happening in the United States?

The Y2K (Year 2000) scare ends as the millennium begins without major disruptions from computer systems that had to be updated before the world moved from 1999 to 2000.

Dec. 12, 2000: In Bush v. Gore, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively decides that George Bush has defeated Al Gore to become the 43rd president of the United States.

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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?