Jul 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Republican confidence in public schools plummets to all-time low

tudents attend class on the second to last day of school as New York City public schools prepare to wrap up the year at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 on June 24, 2022.

Students attend class at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 in New York City on June 24. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Just 28% of Americans say they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in public schools, the second lowest figure on record, a new Gallup poll revealed Thursday.

Why it matters: The poll illustrates a growing national divide over public education, which emerged as a political battleground during the pandemic, with debates over masking, openings and teachings about race dividing parents and triggering intense debates and school board meetings.

Driving the news: The percentage of Republicans who said they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in public schools dropped from 34% in 2020 to 20% in 2021 and 14% in 2022, per the poll.

  • There's a stark partisan divide in views of public schools, with 43% of Democrats saying they have confidence in the public school system compared t0 14% of Republicans.
  • The 29-point gap between Republicans and Democrats is up from a 25-point difference last year.

By the numbers: The 28% of Americans who remain confident in public education is slightly above the all-time low of 26% in 2014, Gallup notes.

  • Trust in public schools increased in 2020 during the early stages of the pandemic, with 41% of Americans having confidence in the system. However, confidence has since dropped to its pre-pandemic level.

Between the lines: "While Republicans express low confidence in U.S. public schools, education is not on their minds when asked to name the most important problem facing the country today — only 1% of Republicans in June named education in answer to this open-ended question," Gallup notes.

Go deeper... The next political battleground: school boards

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