50 Years of American Voices


William J. Bushaw and Shane J. Lopez

The 45th Annual PDK/Gallup Poll
of the Public’s Attitudes
Toward the Public Schools

“As 45 states stand on the brink of one of the most ambitious education initiatives in our lifetime, Americans say they don’t believe standardized tests improve education, and they aren’t convinced rigorous new education standards will help.

“Results of the poll come in a time of unsettledness in the American education franchise. Recent major reform efforts — No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and the Common Core State Standards — face uncertain futures even as the poll lays bare a significant rift between policy makers and ordinary citizens and parents.”

What was happening in American education?

Winter 2013: Parents begin to withdraw their children from testing as a way to oppose newly mandated standardized testing as testing becomes the basis for judging student performance and evaluating teachers.

March 26, 2013: The Indiana Supreme Court rules that the state’s voucher program, known as the Indiana School Choice Scholarship, is constitutional because families, not schools, are the main beneficiaries of the public funding.

March 2013: Atlanta Supt. Beverly Hall and nearly three dozen teachers and administrators are indicted for facilitating cheating on standardized tests dating to 2001.

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April 2013: The Next Generation Science Standards are released.

August 2013: In The Smartest Kids in the World, Amanda Ripley explores how Finland, South Korea, and Poland have developed top-performing school systems.

Sept. 12, 2013: The National Education Association publishes an internal poll that reveals most of its members strongly support the Common Core State Standards.

What else was happening in the United States?

Jan. 17, 2013: Cyclist Lance Armstrong admits to doping, a revelation that ultimate results in stripping him of his seven Tour de France victories.

Jan. 21, 2013: Barack Obama begins his second term as president of the United States.

Jan. 24, 2013: The U.S. lifts its ban on women serving in combat.

April 15, 2013: Two brothers set off explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and leaving hundreds injured.

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Medical workers aid injured people at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following two explosions on April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

May 7, 2013: Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 15,000 for the first time.

May 23, 2013: Boy Scouts of America lifts its ban on gay youth members.

2013: Former CIA employee Edward Snowden discloses details about numerous classified global surveillance programs run by the U.S. government and other agencies. He is ultimately charged with espionage and granted asylum by the Russian government.

July 12, 2013: George Zimmerman is acquitted of all charges related the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., in February 2012.

Aug. 29, 2013: The U.S. Department of Justice announces it will not sue to block laws legalizing marijuana in 20 states and the District of Columbia, a move that proponents hail as an important step toward ending the prohibition of the drug.

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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?