50 Years of American Voices


William J. Bushaw and Alec M. Gallup

The 40th Annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Atttudes Toward the Public Schools

“The results of this year’s PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools are so heartening. In each answer, respondents demonstrate a growing sophistication in their understanding of what good schools look like — and an awareness of the impact of haphazard assessments on our classrooms and our kids. They recognize that real growth can only be measured over the course of an entire school year, rather than a stand-alone exam on one day in June. They value teacher observations and student work as valid indicators of learning, and they realize that our emphasis on reading and mathematics has pushed other meaningful subjects aside. Having experienced firsthand the changes that the No Child Left Behind legislation has had on classroom instruction, I can only hope that policy makers will hear their voices.”

— Bill Ferriter, teacher, Wake County (N.C.) Public School System

What was happening in American education?

2008  Benchmarking report cover

2008: The National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers and Achieve release a report, Benchmarking for Success: Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World-Class Education, that recommends that states “upgrade state standards by adopting a common core of internationally benchmarked standards in math and language arts for grades K-12 to ensure that students are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to be globally competitive.”

2008: The documentary, “Two Million Minutes,” explores how three superpowers — the United States, China, and India — prepare students for their futures.

What else was happening in the United States?

2008  Ap 080828016297

U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps, winner of 8 gold medals at the Beijing Olympic, poses with one of his gold medals in London on Aug. 24, 2008. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

August 2008: Swimmer Michael Phelps wins eight gold medals at the Beijing Summer Olympics.

Oct. 3, 2008: Congress passes $700-billion bailout aimed at helping ailing Wall Street and banking businesses.

Nov. 4, 2008: Barack Obama is elected president of the United States.

Dec. 11, 2008: Billionaire conman Bernie Madoff is arrested in a Ponzi scheme later estimated to have involved about $65 billion, making it one of the biggest investment frauds in U.S. history.

2008: Created in 2006, Twitter becomes a significant social media player as users post an estimated 400 million tweets this year.

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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?