A new survey shows a gulf between the broader public and teachers on the best ways to improve America’s schools. (It is a gulf we often see here on the blog between parent posters and teachers.)
The fourth annual survey by Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance and Education Next found that while the public supports merit pay for teachers, teachers strongly oppose it. (And we clearly see that on the blog.)
Conversely, while the public opposes teacher tenure, teachers favor it. And teachers are more opposed to the federal Race to the Top program, from which Georgia just won $400 million yesterday.
As usual, Americans think that public schools are bad, except their own.
Among the noteworthy findings:
- Only 18 percent of survey respondents give public schools an “A” or a “B.” More than one-quarter of respondents give the nation’s schools a “D” or an “F.” Only 28 percent of teachers give the nation’s schools an “A” or a “B,” while 55 percent give them a “C” and 17 percent a “D” or “F.”
- The grades improve, however, when people are asked about their own schools. About 65 percent give their local elementary school the highest grades; 55 percent do so for their local middle school. Only 6 percent assign their local elementary school a “D” or and “F,” while 12 percent assign those low grades to their local middle school.
- Support for basing a teacher’s salary, in part, on student academic progress on state tests rose, increasing from 44 percent in 2007 to 49 percent in 2010, while opposition declined from 32 to 25 percent. However, only 24 percent of teachers support the idea.
-Those who oppose teacher tenure outnumber those who support it by a margin of almost 2:1. Forty-seven percent oppose the idea, while 25 percent favor it. But among teachers, 48 percent favor tenure.
-Thirty-two percent of Americans think Race to the Top is necessary to improve education, but 22 percent believe it is an intrusion into local government. However, 46 percent of those polled had no opinion. Teachers oppose RttT by a 2:1 margin, with only 22 percent saying they like the program.
-There was a surge in support for virtual schooling. Between 2009 and 2010, the percentage in favor of allowing high school students to take an online course increased from 42 percent to 52 percent, while opposition fell from 29 percent to 23 percent.
-Support for charter schools remained essentially unchanged between 2008 and 2010 —rising from 42 percent to 44 percent, while opposition increased from 16 to 19 percent. The remaining group—36 percent— remained neutral. Among teachers, charter support fell from 47 percent to 39 percent.
- Support for school vouchers has fallen. While 45 percent of the American public supported vouchers in 2007, only 31 percent did so in 2010.
-Fifty-eight percent of the public thought states should toughen their testing and standards, but only 33 percent of teachers felt that way.
-More Americans (62 percent) believe Congress should continue testing requirements in math and reading than oppose the idea (12 percent), with 26 percent taking a neutral position. But only 50 percent of teachers supported maintaining these requirements.