Gallup Finds Americans Prefer Private Schools to Public

Americans believe that abetter education is to be had in private and charter schools rather than home or public schooling, according to the latest Gallup poll. When asked to assess each type of education provider separately as either excellent, good, only fair or poor, private schooling rated the highest percentage of excellent or good votes, followed by parochial schools, charters, and home schools — with public schools bring up the rear.

More than two-thirds of those asked thought that private schools provided either excellent or good schooling options, while fewer than 40% believed the same about public schools despite that a majority of American children are educated in public schools. 83% percent of families with children had at least one child attending a local public school, with 4% educated at home, 9% in private school and 2% in parochial school. The number of families with children in charter school wasn't available due to the fact that this type of academic institution is too new for accurate data collection.

These results are based on Gallup's annual Work and Education poll, conducted Aug. 9-12. For the first time Gallup asked Americans to rate — based on what they have heard or their own experiences — the quality of education U.S. children receive in various schooling situations.

Parents of school-aged children generally rank the various school types in the same order, although they are somewhat more positive about the quality of public school education — 47% say it is excellent or good — than the broader adult population (37%).

Among parents of American school children, the preference for private schools was even more marked, with 80% rating those kinds of institutions as providing an excellent or good education. The breakdown further down the list was slightly different, with nearly half viewing public schools as excellent or good, and 46% viewing education provided at home in the same light. Charter schools were thought to be good or excellent by 61% of parents, which was similar to the 60% of respondents overall who thought the same.

There are political differences in how respondents rate the quality of certain types of schooling, with Republicans much more positive about home schooling and, to a lesser extent, parochial schools, than are Democrats. In turn, Democrats are more positive about public schools than are Republicans.

The net result of these differences is that Democrats are slightly more positive about the educational quality of public schools than of home schooling. However, Democrats still view private, parochial, and charter schools as providing better education than public schools.

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