New EdChoice poll: A decade of public opinion on education

Editor’s note: This analysis from Mike McShane, director of national research at EdChoice and a reimaginED guest blogger, appeared last week on forbes.com.

Last week, we at EdChoice released our annual Schooling in America survey. For the past 10 years, we have asked a representative sample of Americans a battery of questions about the American education system. Each year, it gives us the opportunity to see what Americans think about our nation’s schools.

It also gives us the chance to see how opinions have changed over time. I can’t give every finding justice, but here are five things that stood out to me.

General opinion on education doesn’t change that much.

The survey asks Americans if they believe that the education system is heading in the right direction or if it is on the wrong track. Looking at the last decade of responses, we don’t see a great deal of change.

In 2013, 62% of Americans thought that the education system was on the wrong track and 26% thought it was headed in the right direction. By 2022, it was 61% wrong track and 34% right direction. When we ask parents specifically, we see a similar result.

In 2014, 54% of parents thought schools were on the wrong track and 40% thought it was headed in the right direction. By 2022 it was 52% wrong track and 48% right direction.

There have been two presidential elections, a pandemic, the Royals have won the World Series, and there have been a host of other unexpected events in that time period, and yet, opinions on schools have barely budged.

Opinions on school choice policies have changed.

In the first four years of the survey (2013 to 2016) support for education savings accounts, tax-credit scholarships, vouchers, and charter schools all declined among the general population. After starting with levels of support between 60 and 66%, they dropped to between 52 to 59% over that time period.

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