50 Years of American Voices


Lowell C. Rose and Alec M. Gallup

The 34th Annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools

“School improvement efforts that have been blossoming since the 1990s are threatened by financial realities. Public school educators find themselves pulled between the improvement demanded in the federal No Child Left Behind Act and financial conditions at the state level that make simply maintaining the status quo a challenge. And, in continuing to lower the wall between church and state, the U.S. Supreme Court has given approval to vouchers that allow parents to direct public funds to private schools, including religious schools.”

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School voucher rallies take place outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Feb. 20, 2002, where a hearing was held on Cleveland's six-year-old test program. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

June 27, 2002: In Board of Education of Independent School District #92 of Pottawatomie County v. Earls, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that random drug tests of students involved in extracurricular activities do not violate the Fourth Amendment.

Oct. 2, 2002: Houston ISD receives the first million-dollar Broad Prize for Urban Education for being the best urban school district in the United States. HISD was lauded as being an example of the so-called Texas Miracle, which had inspired President George W. Bush to push for development of No Child Left Behind.

2002: States that want to receive federal Title I grants must participate in the biennial 4th-grade and 8th-grade reading and mathematics assessments administered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

What else was happening in the United States?

Feb. 7, 2002: President George W. Bush announces his plan to federally fund faith-based initiatives.

May 12, 2002: Former President Jimmy Carter visits Cuba, the first U.S. president, in or out of office, to visit the nation since the 1959 revolution.

Nov. 25, 2002: Congress establishes the Department of Homeland Security as part of the Homeland Security Act.

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President George W. Bush speaks at Southern Maine Technical College in Portland, Maine, on Jan. 25, 2002, where he said he will ask Congress to spend roughly $10.7 billion on securing the nation's borders to keep out terrorists. Seated, lower left, is Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and seated at right is Transportation Secretary Norm Nineta. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)

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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?