The American Education Poll: Informing the Future of Public Education

What Americans know and think about public schools in this country matters. American’s beliefs have significant value for local and state policymakers and everyone who has a stake in the long-term health and quality of our nation’s public schools.
When based on scientific principles and carried out with fidelity, polls can be very effective in capturing the opinions and viewpoints of individuals from different cultures and backgrounds, and individuals who may not otherwise have the opportunity to have their opinions heard.
The LFA Center on Research in Education is seeking funding for the American Education Poll, a semi-annual national public opinion poll, to capture Americans’ beliefs and knowledge about public schools and help provide a foundation for a consensus on the future of our public schools. 

The American Education Poll is built on the following principles:

  • It is committed to an unbiased approach based on scientific principles for collecting the public’s opinions of public education in America and to complete transparency in the data collection and the dissemination of the findings.
  • The poll questions will be identified through a comprehensive approach to ensure that the issues facing Americans, particularly parents of school-aged children, will be thoughtfully probed with special attention to historically underrepresented Americans.
  • The poll will help identify policies and practices that have strong support among Americans, particularly parents, giving greater guidance for education policy.
  • Given the unprecedented pace of social change, and the potential change in public opinion over time, the American Education Poll will be conducted twice annually.
  • The results of the American Education Poll will be presented to a broad spectrum of the public including parents, education professionals, the media, policymakers, and researchers.

School Safety

School safety issues remain a priority for public schools and communities. As incidents of violence continue in our schools, we must collect up-to-date data to ensure we know and understand the public’s needs and current opinions about school safety. In 2013, the PDK Poll of Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools surveyed their respondents on their opinions about safety in school. The poll found that overall, parents do not worry about their child’s physical safety at school and that most Americans support increasing mental health services rather than hiring more security guards to promote school safety. PDK’s annual poll also found that while Americans are split on the need to employ armed security guards, most are against arming teachers and administrators.

The Center on Research in Education

LFA’s Center on Research in Education (CORE) is co-directed by William Bushaw, Ph.D., and Joan Richardson.

William Bushaw, Ph.D., is the former chief executive officer of Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK) and co-directed the PDK poll. He led the poll questionnaire development and served as principal writer for the poll report.

In 2015, Joan Richardson, editor-in-chief of Kappan magazine, assumed overall responsibility for all aspects of the PDK poll, from questionnaire development to writing, editing, and disseminating the final results. In 2017, Richardson also led the work to produce two state polls in Georgia and New York that were an outgrowth of the PDK poll.

Read more about the poll here: American Education Poll Prospectus.

For more information, contact William Bushaw at or Joan Richardson at

image of James Kelly“A national poll of Americans’ views about education is a vital tool during a time when so much misinformation abounds. Rather than guessing at Americans’ views about the public schools, the poll will point to areas of both consensus and concern. The American Education Poll will be non-partisan, objective, and focused on the most important issues in education. Further, LFA chose the very best individuals to lead this effort I know both Bill Bushaw and Joan Richardson personally. They possess the knowledge and skills to launch this effort quickly and guide it during its formative period. Bill and Joan are deeply committed to doing work that respects the voices of Americans and reflects their true beliefs about the American public schools.”

James A. Kelly | Education Policy | Education Finance | Philanthropy | Teaching Standards, Assessments and Certification

Letter of Endorsement

image of Jack Jennings“The need for this annual survey is clear. In a democracy, the people’s opinions should be known and incorporated into the debate on such important issues as how well the public schools are educating children in general and different groups of children in particular, what would it take to attract the best people into the teaching profession, and how available and affordable is high quality pre-school education. I can testify how important scientifically based opinion research is for policymakers, particularly research gathered annually that can document important changes and trends in the public’s opinions. For this reason and others, I give this project my unequivocal support.”

Jack Jennings | Education Policy and Reform | Education Legislation and History

Letter of Endorsement