50 Years of American Voices


Lowell C. Rose and Alec M. Gallup

The 38th Annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools

“There is still majority support for at least the current level of testing, although there has been a shift toward the belief that there is ‘too much testing.’ Large and growing numbers see the emphasis on testing translating into ‘teaching to the test,’ and those saying that doing so is a ‘bad thing’ are nearing consensus. The support for using a graduate qualifying exam to determine whether a student receives a diploma is strong.”

What was happening in American education?

Jan. 5, 2006: The Bush administration wants to substantially boost federal spending to expand the teaching of Arabic, Chinese, Farsi and other languages typically not taught in public schools. The president sees this effort as crucial to national security.

February 2006: Stanford University psychology Carol Dweck publishes Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, which introduces her idea that success in school, work, and almost every aspect of life can be dramatically influenced by how individuals perceive their talents and abilities.

Oct. 2, 2006: A gunman opens fire with a shotgun at a one-room Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pa., killing four students, wounding seven, then killing himself.

2006: No Child Left Behind mandates that every school has a highly qualified teacher in every classroom by the end of the 2005-06 school year or a plan in place for achieving that goal during the 2006-07 school year.

Aug. 30, 2006: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa assumes control of the city’s public school district, marginalizing the elected school board.

What else was happening in the United States?

Jan. 19, 2006: NASA launches its first mission to Pluto, which is not expected to arrive there until 2015. Later in the year, the International Astronomical Union declares that Pluto is not actually a planet. The mission, however, continues.

2006  Twitter  Icon

March 2006: Twitter begins.

April 30, 2006: Hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their supporters rally in “A Day Without Immigrants” in cities across the country to demonstrate the effect that immigrant workers have on the U.S. economy.

Fall 2006: Housing prices reported to be falling for the first time in 11 years and permits for new home construction drop by 28%, marking the beginning of the housing crisis that would extend for several years.

Oct. 9, 2006: North Korea claims to have conducted its first test of a nuclear weapon.

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Shoppers at Tokyo's Ginza district read extra papers reporting North Korea conducted a nuclear test Oct. 9, 2006. North Korea said Monday it performed its first-ever nuclear weapons test, claiming it set off a successful underground blast in a "great leap forward" that defied international warnings against the communist regime. (AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara)

Nov. 7, 2006: In the midterm elections, both houses of Congress revert to Democratic control for the first time since 1994. Many see this as a referendum on the Bush administration’s Iraq policy plus a response to Republican scandals among some House and Senate members.

Dec. 30, 2006: Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein is executed for war crimes following a trial by a special tribunal.

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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?