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For most Americans, parochial school education outshines public schools

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Parochial schools are better at their task than public schools, say respondents to a survey of Americans’ attitudes towards varieties of schooling.  

“Americans as a whole believe private and parochial schools do a better job of educating students than public schools do,” said Gallup, which suggested better federal or state public school policies could remedy the gap. About 63 percent of Americans said parochial or church-related schools provide an excellent or good education, compared to 44 percent who said the same of public schools, Gallup reports.

There are partisan differences. About 71 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning respondents had a positive view of parochial or church schools, compared to 56 percent of Democrats or Democrat-leaners. Similarly, those of a Republican mindset had the lowest opinion of public schools, 39 percent approval, compared to Democrats’ 48 percent. However, the general public’s opinion of parochial or church schools has slipped six percentage points since a 2012 Gallup survey, when 69 percent had said they are excellent or good.

In the last five years, approval rates of parochial schools dropped 11 percentage points among Democrats, compared to five percentage points among Republicans. Both Democrat and Republican respondents viewed church or parochial schools more highly than charter schools.

The image of public schools has improved, with 44 percent rating them excellent or good. This is an increase from 37 percent in 2012. According to Gallup, this increase primarily reflects an improvement of Republicans’ opinions.

About 71 percent of respondents had favorable views of independent private schools, though this is a decrease from 78 percent five years ago. Another 55 percent of respondents had favorable views of charter schools, though this is a decrease from 60 percent in 2012. Gallup suggested the links between some strong charter school supporters with the Trump administration could be damaging support among Democrats.

The favorability of homeschooling remained steady, with 46 percent of Americans rating it as excellent or good. Only 38 percent of Democrats had a positive view of homeschooling’s education quality. Parents with children in K-12 schools had similar views of schools when compared to those without school age children.

The Gallup survey was held Aug. 2-6, with a random sample of 1,017 adults in all U.S. states and the District of Columbia. It claims a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points for the overall survey.

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