Poll Reflects Declining Confidence in Government-Run Schools: Is the Traditional System Losing Its Appeal?

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

A new survey could signify some positive prospects regarding attitudes about government-run schooling in America.

While public education has been the default for educating children, it is becoming more apparent to many that this system is deeply flawed, to say the least.

A poll conducted by the Democratic group Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) reveals that nearly half of independent voters do not trust either Republicans or Democrats when it comes to handling education policy. The survey demonstrates a strong partisan divide, with 88 percent of Democrats trusting their own party on the issue and 84 percent of Republicans siding with their party.

However, 49 percent of independents expressed a lack of trust in either party’s approach to education. This issue is expected to play a significant role in the 2024 presidential election, alongside controversies surrounding book banning in schools, the debate over progressive ideology being promoted in the classroom, and divergent views on school choice.

The poll also found that a majority of Democratic and independent voters support expanding school choice by improving public schools, as well as creating magnet schools, charter schools, and career academies. This option was favored by 70 percent of Democratic respondents, 64 percent of independents, and 50 percent of Republicans.

It is worth noting that the survey’s questioning was clearly skewed toward a left-wing viewpoint. The poll, conducted in April by Emerson College Polling for DFER, addressed concerns about voting for Republicans who have been accused of politicizing schools through book banning.

The majority of respondents expressed varying degrees of concern: 38 percent had serious concerns, 18 percent had somewhat serious concerns, 13 percent had “not too serious concerns,” and 21 percent had no problems related to book bans when it came to voting for Republicans.

This is only the latest poll showing a severe decline in trust in the public education system. In July 2022, Gallup released the results of a survey further demonstrating how skeptical the populace feels about education in America:

Americans’ confidence in U.S. public schools remains low, with 28% saying they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the institution, similar to 32% last year. Both figures are down from 41% in 2020, reflecting a brief surge in the early months of the pandemic after registering 29% in 2019.

While all political party groups expressed more confidence than usual in public schools in 2020, Republicans’ confidence has since plunged, while independents’ has dipped and Democrats’ has remained near their pandemic high.

Despite the political bias of DFER’s poll, other surveys clearly show that people do not trust the education system as they used to. Those who do not fit cleanly into the Republican and Democratic camps seem to recognize that neither party will do much to improve public schooling. Indeed, school choice seems to be the only issue on which most people, regardless of political affiliation, agree, which could further indicate that the cultural zeitgeist related to education might be experiencing a gradual shift.

As a result, more Americans could be more inclined to explore alternative education options outside of the traditional government-run school system. Indeed, the latest report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows a massive increase in families choosing to homeschool their children.

The poll also highlights the support among independent voters for expanding school choice, including magnet schools, charter schools, and career academies. This indicates a desire for better options and flexibility in education, allowing parents and students to choose the educational approach that best suits their needs and preferences. The endorsement of school choice by a significant portion of independent voters suggests a growing disillusionment with the limitations and shortcomings of government-run schools.

If this disillusionment among independent voters continues to grow, it could lead to a broader questioning of the traditional education system and a push for more innovative and decentralized approaches, which would be a welcome development. Government-run schools are little more than indoctrination centers designed to influence young minds. This is nothing new; it was by design since compulsory schooling became the rule all across the country.

Independent voters, who often play a crucial role in determining election outcomes, may increasingly support candidates and policies prioritizing education reforms and providing alternatives to government-run schools. This could have long-term implications for the education landscape, as policymakers and education leaders may be compelled to address the concerns of independent voters and embrace changes that promote greater choice, effectiveness, and accountability in education.

If this gets America closer to getting the government out of education, then I’m all for it.

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