Cover Story: Business Week/Harris Poll
POLL: HOW AMERICANS GRADE THE SCHOOL SYSTEM
In general, how would you rate the quality of American public
schools--excellent, pretty good, only fair, or poor?
Pretty good 36%
Only fair 36%
Not sure 2%
A DIRECT STAKE
Do you have a child or grandchild who is currently
attending or has attended U.S. public schools in the past five
years, or not?
Not sure 1%
(If yes:) How would you rate the quality of those schools--excellent, pretty
good, only fair, or poor?
Pretty good 44%
Only fair 29%
Not sure 1%
(If no:) How would you rate the quality of the public schools in your local
community--excellent, pretty good, only fair, or poor?
Pretty good 43%
Only fair 25%
Not sure 3%
WHAT'S GOING WRONG
Within the public school system, is each of the following a very serious
problem, a somewhat serious problem, not a very serious problem, or not a
problem at all?
Very Somewhat Not very Not a Not
serious serious serious problem sure
A lack of parental involvement with children's education
56% 26% 9% 6% 3%
A shortage of teachers
37% 23% 18% 18% 4%
An insufficiently challenging curriculum
33% 31% 16% 13% 7%
Too many administrative rules governing individual schools
25% 37% 22% 9% 7%
A lack of up-to-date computers and equipment
24% 30% 24% 16% 6%
A short school year18% 24% 25% 28% 5%
Even if it might mean higher taxes, would you favor spending more money on your
community's public schools, or would you favor spending less or about the same
amount of money?
Not sure 2%
LEVELING THE LEARNING FIELD
Now I'd like to read you a series of statements about public school education
in this country. Tell me whether you agree or disagree with each statement.
Agree Disagree Not sure
School districts that decide to raise more money to pay for better schools
should be allowed to do so
86% 13% 1%
Children should be able to attend any school they qualify for, including
public, parochial, or private schools, with government money going to poor or
middle-income children attending private or parochial
69% 29% 2%
Children should be able to attend the public school of their choice, including
one out of their district, with government money going to the school they attend
63% 35% 2%
To ensure more equal spending among districts, financing of the public school
system should be taken out of the hands of local government and moved toward
federal or state governments
43% 52% 5%
Most of the money for schools should continue to come from local
taxes, not state or federal taxes
41% 56% 3%
BACK TO BASICS
Do you favor or oppose each of the following proposed changes to the curriculum
in public schools?
Favor Oppose sure
Putting more emphasis on teaching tougher, more challenging basics such
as reading, writing, math, and science
96% 3% 1%
Teaching more practical skills that can be used in the work force
92% 7% 1%
Raising requirements for passing courses and graduating
80% 18% 2%
Teaching more about foreign countries and languages
71% 27% 2%
Teaching a broader, more enriched curriculum, including more arts and music
67% 32% 1%
Bearing in mind that they are paid out of taxes, do you think public school
teachers are paid enough, too little, or too much?
Too little 55%
Too much 6%
Not sure 4%
THE EDUCATION PRESIDENT?
Who do you think would do a better job of improving education in this country
if elected President--President Bush or Governor Clinton?
Not sure 16%
Survey of 1,250 adults conducted Aug. 26-31, 1992, for BUSINESS WEEK by Louis
Harris & Associates Inc. Results should be accurate to within 3 percentage
Edited by Mark N. Vamos