Quick hit for today from The Associated Press, highlighting results from a new education survey:
An overwhelming majority of Americans are frustrated that it’s too difficult to get rid of bad teachers, while most also believe that teachers aren’t paid enough, a new poll shows.
The Associated Press-Stanford University poll found that 78 percent think it should be easier for school administrators to fire poorly performing teachers. Yet overall, the public wants to reward teachers — 57 percent say they are paid too little, with just 7 percent believing they are overpaid and most of the rest saying they’re paid about right.
A full copy of the survey data is available here. When asked about problems facing American schools today, reuspondents listed the following as “extremely” or “very” serious, in descending order:
- Lack of student discipline (59%)
- Fighting, violence, and gangs (56%)
- Getting and keeping good teachers (55%)
- Low test scores (50%)
- Low expectations for student achievement (49%)
- Overcrowding (44%)
- Students not spending enough time in school (41%)
- Placing emphasis on the wrong subjects (39%)
- Outdated textbooks (38%)
- The quality of the curriculum (37%)
- Too many bad teachers (35%)
- The quality of instruction by teachers (34%)
- The condition of school buildings (25%)
- Availability of athletic facilities (20%)
Another question regards who deserves a lot or a great deal of blame for the problems in our schools, again listed in descending order:
- Parents (68%)
- State education officials (65%)
- Federal education officials (59%)
- Local school administrators (53%)
- The students themselves (46%) [Yikes!]
- Teachers unions (45%)
- Teachers (35%)
While 78 percent support making it easier to fire poorly performing teachers, a very respectable 71 percent also support making it easier to fire principals at underperforming schools. Interesting.
One other note for those who like to deconstruct polling results: 30 percent of respondents identify as Democrats, with an additional 16 percent saying they lean that way politically (for a total of 46 percent). Meanwhile, 21 percent identify as Republicans, with an additional 15 percent saying they lean the GOP’s way (for a total of 36 percent). Is the sample good? Might it affect opinions at all of who is to blame?
At this point, I’m not sure what use to make of all the information, except perhaps to start a discussion about the accuracy of the public’s perception, and how it might inform the politics of crafting education reform policy. Do people really get what the problems are? Do they truly understand who is responsible? What say you?