Barely one-quarter of Americans trust the public school system: Gallup poll

American faith in public education is nearing an all-time low, according to the polling organization.

Updated: July 16, 2022 - 11:38pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The confidence Americans have in the United States public school system has fallen drastically and is currently close to the all-time low of 26% recorded in 2014, according to a poll released Thursday that also showed a significant gap between the trust Republicans and Democrats have in the schools.

According to a Gallup poll, overall, 28% of Americans say they have a "great deal/quite a lot" of confidence in the public school system. 

Trust has fallen sharply since the all-time high of 62% in 1975, though it briefly rebounded to 41% in 2020. In 2021, the rate of trust fell nearly 10 percentage points to 32%, and dropped again to 28% in 2022.

The poll illustrates the differing degrees of trust held by the country's two major political parties. Among Democrats, 43% say they have confidence in the school system, compared to just 14% of Republicans. The rate among independents is 29%. 

The current 29-percentage-point gap between Republicans and Democrats widens the 25-point gap logged last year. The first year that Gallup asked the question (1973), the margin of difference between Democrats and Republicans was only 7 points.

Republican faith in the public schools has nosedived in recent years. Since 2020, an 8-point gap between Republicans reporting their trust in the system as "very little/none" and those reporting "a great deal/a lot" of trust has widened into a 36-point gap. 

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school system became an increasingly polarizing political issue as many parents and Republican lawmakers took issue with ongoing calls for remote learning and mandatory masking of children.