Americans' satisfaction with the quality of K-12 education has plummeted to 36%, a low last seen 23 years ago, according to a Gallup poll released last week.
"Americans’ satisfaction with the quality of K-12 education in the U.S. has fallen to a record low point as a new school year begins," researchers found in the nationally representative survey of 1,014 respondents, including 219 parents with K-12 children.
Reported satisfaction with the quality of K-12 education has been on a steady decline since 2019, when just over half of adults said they were satisfied.
Lower satisfaction from Republicans and right-leaning independents under Democratic President Joseph Biden's administration drove the overall decline in respondents’ ratings, according to Gallup. Only 25% of Republicans or Republican-leaning independents said they were completely or somewhat satisfied with K-12 education quality.
Democrats or Democrat-leaning independents were much more likely to report some degree of satisfaction, at 44%.
"Both party groups are at or near record-low satisfaction levels, but Republicans are significantly less likely to be satisfied than Democrats are," said researchers.
However, parents with children in the K-12 system were slightly more likely than the general population to say they were satisfied to some degree, at 41%.
"Parents’ more-positive views on education are reserved for their direct experience with their own children," researchers found. For example, 76% of K-12 parents said they were satisfied to some degree with their oldest child's education.
This is in line with previous findings suggesting parents are much more likely to rate their child's school more positively than they are the education system as a whole.
While parental engagement and satisfaction has always been a top-of-mind issue for school administrators, it took on a renewed importance during and after the pandemic, which caused many schools to transition to remote learning through 2021.
As a result, parents sometimes played a larger role in their child's education than before the pandemic. A survey released by child development and education nonprofit Learning Heroes two months after the pandemic began in March 2020, for example, showed 67% of parents said they were more “connected with my child’s day-to-day education now than ever before."
At the time, education experts also noticed parents considering other options, such as private or charter schools and homeschooling.
Data released earlier this year showed over half of parents said they considered or were considering enrolling their child in a new school, according to a National School Choice Awareness Foundation survey.
In that survey of 3,820 parents, a majority (68%) still said they were largely satisfied with their children's school.
"Still, parents of elementary and secondary school students remain quite satisfied with the education their child is getting, and they offer mostly positive reviews of the performance of their children’s teachers," Gallup's survey also confirmed. "If parental satisfaction wanes, however, parents may choose to move their child to a different school.”