Gallup recently released its annual survey on American’s confidence in various institutions. It found that “confidence in U.S. public schools [is] at a new low.”

Americans' confidence in public schools is down five percentage points from last year, with 29 percent expressing "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in them. That establishes a new low in public school confidence from the 33 percent measured in Gallup's 2007 and 2008 Confidence in Institutions polls. The high was 58 percent the first time Gallup included public schools, in 1973.


Institutions garnering the most public confidence are the military, 75 percent; small business, 63 percent; the police, 63 percent; the church or organized religion, 44 percent; and the medical system, 41 percent.

At the other end of the spectrum, institutions in which the smallest proportion of the public expresses a great deal of confidence include newspapers, 25 percent. Big business, banks, organized labor garner 21 percent each; followed by HMOs, 19 percent; and Congress, 13 percent.

The public is more positive about their local public schools, according to a Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK)/Gallup poll last year when a record 37 percent of Americans gave the neighborhood schools their children attend a grade of ‘A’. The number one thing respondents said would improve their schools’ grades? Improving the quality of teaching.