Americans’ views of whether educational institutions are having a positive or negative impact on the country are essentially unchanged since late 2022. About half (53%) say colleges and universities are having a positive impact, while 45% say they’re having a negative impact.

Views of the impact of K-12 public schools are identical (53% positive, 45% negative). These also are little changed from 2022, though somewhat less positive than in 2021 (when 61% had a positive opinion).

Partisanship and ideology

Chart shows Democrats about twice as likely as Republicans to have positive views of colleges, K-12 public schools

Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans to view both colleges and K-12 schools positively.

Roughly three-quarters (74%) of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say colleges have a positive impact – nearly as many (72%) say the same of K-12 public schools.

Only about a third of Republicans and Republican leaners express positive opinions about the impact of colleges (31%) or K-12 public schools (34%). 

There is a sharp ideological divide among Republicans in views of educational institutions. Just 20% of conservative Republicans say colleges have a positive impact – roughly half the share of moderate and liberal Republicans who say the same (53%). The difference is similar when it comes to opinions about how K-12 public schools affect the country.

Democrats are less ideologically divided: Liberal Democrats are more likely than conservative and moderate Democrats to view colleges and public schools positively, but sizable majorities in both groups say colleges and public schools have a positive effect.

Age, education

Younger adults and those with more formal education are more likely than older adults and those with less education to view educational institutions positively.

Colleges and universities
Chart shows Wide age, educational and ideological gaps in views of colleges and K-12 public schools
  • Roughly six-in-ten of those ages 18 to 29 (63%) say that colleges and universities are having a positive impact, compared with 56% of those 30 to 49 and 52% of those 50 to 64.
  • Among those ages 65 and older, more say that colleges are having a negative impact (56%) than say they are having a positive impact (40%).
  • 59% of those with at least a bachelor’s degree view colleges and universities positively, compared with 50% of those without a bachelor’s degree.
K-12 public schools
  • 58% of adults under 30 say that K-12 schools are having a positive impact, as do 54% of adults ages 30 to 64. This drops to 46% among those ages 65 and older.
  • Six-in-ten college graduates say that K-12 public schools are having a positive impact, compared with 49% of those without college degrees.