Americans' confidence in public schools is down five percentage points from last year, with 29% expressing "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in them. That establishes a new low in public school confidence from the 33% measured in Gallup's 2007 and 2008 Confidence in Institutions polls. The high was 58% the first time Gallup included public schools, in 1973.
In addition to public schools, this year's Confidence in Institutions survey finds record lows, all by one percentage point, in Americans' confidence in the church or organized religion (44%), banks (21%), and television news (21%). Gallup has asked Americans to say how much confidence they have in a variety of U.S. institutions since 1973, including annually since 1993. Once again, Americans are most confident in the military (75%), which has finished first each year since 1989 except 1997, when small business edged it out. Small business, at 63%, is second this year. The police, at 56%, is third, and the only other institution of the 16 tested in which a majority of Americans express confidence. At the other end of the spectrum, Congress ranks last with 13% confidence, followed by Health Maintenance Organizations at 19%.