Graduate Program

Educational Administration

Degree Name

Education Specialist (EdS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Harry Merigis


Public opinion regarding the schools in Decatur Public School District #61 is addressed in this field experience. The study focuses on a comparison of local public opinion to national public opinion.

The questionnaire for the telephone survey was developed by selecting 11 questions from the 1982 Gallup education poll and adding a question regarding merit pay for teachers.

The local telephone survey included a random sampling from the Decatur, Illinois telephone directory of 200 residents living within Decatur Public School District #61. Each respondent was placed into three subgroups--parent or non-parent, age level, and highest level of formal education received. The largest groups sampled within each subgroup were parents (60 percent), 30-49 years of age (43 percent), and high school graduates (55 percent).

Related research studies revealed that school superintendents viewed the major problems facing school districts from an operational basis which included financial and government considerations (Weber, 1980). National pollster George H. Gallup in his 1982 survey found that the general public viewed schools on a more emotional basis. Gallup found "a lack of discipline" as the major problem (Gallup, 1982).

The findings of the local survey with a few exceptions--reducing counselors in the schools, changes in the school curriculum, and extending the school day--agreed with the findings of the national Gallup poll. The issue of merit pay was favored by the local residents.

Recommendations from this study include: (a) The local school district should monitor closely the annual Gallup education poll; (b) The school district should establish a comprehensive media plan; (c) Specific board policies and building level plans should be established to address the problem of discipline; (d) A plan should be considered by the school administrators to monitor social indicators of problems; (e) The school administrators should study the problems in the the curriculum of more emphasis on basics, upgrading textbooks, more vocational courses, and raising academic standards; and, (f) The school administrators should study the positive and negative aspects of merit pay for teachers and the effects of its possible implementation in the Decatur school district.