Abstract: Examining the American Public’s Perception of the United States’ Education as Failing

The American public currently paints the United States’ public education system as dropping behind in international comparisons and as failing its students. Many surveys frequently show that over the past decade and further back, over half of Americans are dissatisfied with the state of K-12 public education in America. There is likely some truth to this, but at the same time there is also a possibility that the public’s perception has been skewed.  Over the same time span that shows a lack of faith in the American public education system, a much lower proportion of Americans are dissatisfied with the K-12 public education their own child has received. For instance according to Gallup polls since 1999, 49-61 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the overall state of K-12 public education in America, while in that same time period only 14-30 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the state of their own child’s K-12 public education. I am going to explore this discrepancy and also look at what factors Americans value in an education system as well as what factors Americans perceive the United States K-12 public education system as lacking.

There’s growing sentiment that the United States is falling behind other Western and Asian countries in terms of education. If this notion is mere hysteria and just perception, then there is less to worry about although it should be exposed that the idea is off base. After all, a good citizen should be informed as to what drives his or her own beliefs and opinions.  However if the collective belief that the American education system is subpar, then its imperative that steps are undertaken in order to remedy the situation.

I plan on conducting my research over nine weeks of the summer, using information gathered from news articles, media clips, journal, surveys, and polls. I will also utilize statistics software and examine trends that I find that may influence the public’s disapproval of America’s education system. After determining a few of the main factors that influence this belief, I will take a more in depth look at those factors as well as consider whether or not the American public’s perception is justified or not. At the end, I will compile my findings into a paper.