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PDK Poll: U.S. teachers frustrated with lack of pay and feeling valued

  PDK Poll: U.S. Teachers Frustrated with Lack of Pay and Feeling Valued (Logo/Graphic)Half of public school teachers have seriously considered leaving the profession in the past few years. Only about half say their community values them a great deal or a good amount, and a majority says that, given the opportunity, they’d vote to go on strike for higher pay, according to the 51st edition of the annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools released on August 5.

The full results of the PDK Poll are compiled in a report titled Frustration in the schools: Teachers speak out on pay, funding, and feeling valued. This year’s poll has several new features: For the first time in 20 years, PDK included a survey of public school teachers alongside the survey of the general population. They also expanded its sample size by breaking out Asian adults in addition to Black, White, and Hispanic adults. This year, online focus groups of public school parents and public school teachers were included to better understand why Americans responded as they did to the poll questions.

Other notable poll results include the following:

  • Infographic of Reasons Teachers LeaveAbout half of parents and two-thirds of teachers say school discipline is not strict enough.
  • Assessing school quality. Nearly all teachers (94%) say the better way to assess a school’s quality is to look at the improvement its students show over time, rather than the percentage of students who pass a standardized state test at any given time.
  • Bible studies. Majorities say schools should offer classes in Bible studies and comparative religions, with small percentages of Americans saying they should be required.
  • Workforce preparation. Preparing a student for the workplace is not the main purpose of a public school education, but a plurality of parents (45%) would still like to have their child enroll in a job skills course in high school rather than an advanced academic class or an arts or music course.
  • School funding. Most adults, in general, parents and teachers say their local schools have too little money; Black Americans are especially likely to believe this. Even a majority of the most affluent Americans say their schools are underfunded.
  • Taxes for schools. Raising taxes to support public schools remains unpopular, but Americans do support using revenue from state lotteries, legal recreational marijuana, and legal sports gambling to increase school funding.
  • Pressures at school. Half of teachers see pressure to do well on tests as a big problem, compared with about 3 in 10 parents. Both groups rate racism, religious bias, and bias toward gay, lesbian, and/or transgender students as relatively small problems.
  • Grading the schools. Parents and teachers generally give pretty high grades to their local schools. Among parents, those who are Asian American, affluent, or college-educated award the highest grades.

Published as a supplement to Kappan magazine, the full 51st annual poll report is available online at pdkpoll.org.

Source note: All images and content courtesy of PDK International

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Katrina Norfleet

Content Strategist, AACTE