Survey Shows American Frustration with Schools, Support for Choice Programs

64 percent of Americans would give their public schools a “C” grade or lower, according to a new poll released this week by the George W. Bush Institute.

“When it comes to assigning public schools a grade, Americans are pretty harsh in their views,” says James Guthrie, Senior Fellow for Education Reform at the George W. Bush Institute and professor at Vanderbilt University. When 1,111 randomly selected adults were surveyed late in February, only seven percent gave America’s public schooling an “A” grade. 56 percent of respondents disagreed with the statement “the nation receives a good return on its schooling investment.”

“Americans say public schools are barely doing enough to pass, and they believe that throwing money at the problem isn’t a good idea,” continued Guthrie.

The survey also suggested that Americans might be more conducive to school choice options than previously thought. An overwhelming majority (74 percent) agreed that “every effort should be made to inject greater competition (e.g. charter schools or vouchers) into the schooling sector to make it more efficient.” 44 percent of respondents “strongly agreed,” while just 12 percent “strongly disagreed” with that sentiment.

The survey, which was conducted by Social Science Research Solutions, did have some positive results for the country’s educational system. The majority of respondents (56 percent) felt that public schools are a “great financial bargain.” Still, these results painted a bleak picture of public opinion for these schools – something that can only be overcome through improvement.

The lack of satisfaction with traditional public schools, combined with the growing sentiment towards choice schools, is a promising attitude towards educational reform. It is this attitude that has spurred the growth of charter schools and school choice programs across the country over the past two decades. These results show that this growth is still in its infancy as parents, students, and citizens look to get more out of their educations.

The full survey results can be found here.