Just 28% of Americans say they have confidence in the nation’s public schools, down 4 percentage points from last year, according to Gallup polling conducted in June. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the number had jumped to 41% from just 29% in 2019.
When split across party lines, however, 43% of Democrats say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in public schools, down from 48% in 2020. Only 14% of Republicans say they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in public schools, compared to 34% of Republicans in 2020.
The stark contrast along party lines comes amid high political polarization over education as concerns like critical race theory, LGBTQ issues, COVID-19 precautions and more have led to intense school board debates, threats against administrators and teachers, and the passage of polarizing laws such as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Still, while 50% of Republicans reported having “very little” or no confidence in public schools, just 1% of Republicans identified education as the most important problem facing the country, which suggests education has limited influence on how they will vote, Gallup reports.
Notably, Americans have also historically rated their local public schools more favorably than the nation’s public schools at large.