by Solaiman K Hassanin ‘23
Today, public education increasingly is a center of controversy. A recent Gallup poll found that 70 percent of Americans have “some” to “very little” confidence in public schools, compared to 28 percent who said they have a “great deal” to “quite a lot” of confidence in schools. The Gallup poll also demonstrated a stark difference alongside political lines, with 51 percent of Democrats saying they have at least some confidence in the public educational system, compared to 30 percent of Republicans answering that they are at least somewhat satisfied with the public education system. Parents themselves responded with overall positivity, with 80 percent of respondents being at least somewhat satisfied with their child’s K-12 education, and 32 percent of which responded that they are completely satisfied.
Recently, public controversy on education has become intensely politicized. Critical Race Theory, for example, has remained a troubling topic between those like Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin who say that it is too divisive, and those who argue that the United States has troubling aspects of its past that must be addressed. Comparatively, Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill sparked a showdown between Walt Disney and the State of Florida.
Despite such highly publicized controversies, Democrats and Republicans alike primarily expressed agitation on curriculum issues; amongst the main concerns were outdated curriculums, poor academic-performance ranking compared to other countries, lack of basic teaching, and lack of life skill education. Just 4 percent of Gallup respondents listed gender issues as a concern, while 3 percent listed critical race theory as a concern. It is unclear if a survey can definitively cast away prevalent concerns represented throughout national media, but the numbers do seem to suggest that there are bigger issues in education, such as understaffing or a lack of adequate resources, which trouble the everyday person.