The biggest problem facing schools is lack of funding, according to this year’s 44th annual Phi Delta Kappa Gallup Poll. Based on a survey of 1,002 Americans conducted via telephone in May and June 2012, the poll presents the public’s attitudes towards public schools, offering statistics for Americans’ opinions on a variety of topics.
The first question survey conductors asked respondents was an open-ended one: what do you think is the biggest problem facing the public schools in your community? In 2002, the most common response related to discipline, as 39% of Americans complained about either lack of discipline, fighting and gang violence, or drugs. But ten years later, by far the most common response is “lack of financial support,” with 35% of Americans, and 43% of public school parents, naming it as the single biggest problem for schools.
Another key finding is that nearly all of Americans (97%) feel it is “very/fairly important” to improve the country’s urban schools. Additionally, while states and school districts across the country work towards ensuring that teacher evaluations are based on student performance on standardized tests, half of Americans actually oppose this requirement.
 In 2002, 23% of Americans responded saying “lack of financial support.” And conversely, in 2012, only 14% of Americans mentioned discipline-related concerns. For the breakdown of answers to this question, see Table 1 on p.10 of the report.