New Poll:What Americans believe about public education

The annual Phi Delta Kappa International/Gallup poll on public education has just been released. The poll delves into all manner of questions from teachers, including unions, salaries, hiring/firing practices, and curriculum.

People overwhelmingly support teachers and public schools

The survey shows the public has a generally positive view of teachers. Nearly three out of four of those surveyed said they had confidence and trust in teachers today, and two out of three said they would be in favor of their child becoming a public school teacher. It wasn’t just their own children they wanted to become teachers—they wanted the highest-achieving high school students to be recruited for the classroom.

“It’s clear that Americans recognize the importance of getting quality students to become the next generation of teachers,” Mr. Bushaw said.

The poll, in this way, points out some of the areas where current policy and public opinion don’t match up, said Thomas Toch, the co-founder of the Education Sector think tank and the currrent executive director of Independent Education, a Washington-area private school consortium. The public wants to find and retain the highest-quality teachers, and it wants to compensate them based on a number of factors, with student test scores being the least important. Experience, academic degree, and principal evaluations all ranked higher than test scores in the survey. Merit-pay, an important element of the Obama administration’s education agenda, calls for great emphasis to be placed on student test scores when determining teachers’ salaries.

“This poll today shows a much more sophisticated public that is willing and ready to invest in teachers,” Mr. Berry said.

There's a lot more fascinating results in the poll, including no support for firing teachers without cause or converting underperforming schools to charters, even though charters are well supported. People also believe strongly there is a funding crisis (wait till they get a load of the Governor's budget!). Here's the poll.

2010 Poll Report