National Survey Shows Teachers Supportive of Critical Education and Labor Reforms
Alexandria, VA– Today the Association of American Educators (AAE), the largest national non-union educators association, released its 2013 member survey about critical education issues. Survey results show progressive stances toward education and labor reform, particularly with regard to raising expectations, accountability, school choice, technology, Common Core State Standards, and school budgets and pensions.
While policymakers champion new ideas in education, it's vital that educators' opinions and experiences are taken into account as these reforms are considered and implemented. As a member-driven organization, AAE brings an authentic classroom teacher voice to the education reform dialogue, providing invaluable input from professional educators all across America.
"AAE derives its policy positions directly from our membership survey so that we can most accurately represent their views," stated AAE Executive Director Gary Beckner. "The opinions expressed in this survey are those of real teachers, not bureaucrats or union leaders with partisan political agendas."
With regard to raising the bar for incoming educators, education reform advocates and even high-ranking union officials have suggested that a bar examination for teachers will be necessary to improve the quality and status of American teachers. The AAE survey underscores that sentiment:
- 62% of survey respondents agree with the idea that, just as lawyers must pass state bar exams to practice law, teachers should pass a test that measures their potential to be effective.
Regarding class size:
- 59% percent of AAE members would support a 1-2 student increase in grades 4-12 class size to make more money available for teacher pay, more technology in the classroom, and other educational programs.
While the union-backed establishment sees school choice as detrimental to the teaching profession, AAE teachers support certain laws that advance school choice and promote options for all stakeholders:
- 69% percent of survey respondents support the Washington, D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) that awards need-based annual scholarships to eligible District children to attend a participating private/parochial D.C. elementary, middle, or high school of their parent's choice.
- 68% of teachers agree with an Indiana law that allows any taxpayer who has a child already enrolled in a private/parochial school or who is home-schooled to claim up to a $1,000 tax deduction per child for approved educational expenses including school tuition, textbooks, fees, software, tutoring, and supplies.
- 74% of AAE members support Arizona's Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs), which enable parents of special needs children to leave their assigned public schools, taking 90% of the state dollars with them. That money, deposited into ESAs, can then be used to access a multitude of education options that better meet their children's needs.
As new technologies make it possible for students to learn at their own pace, states across the country are implementing policies that offer and encourage online learning. While defenders of the status quo see virtual options as a threat, AAE members embrace new technologies as a means to better prepare students for the job market of the 21st century:
- 64% of AAE teachers support a Florida law that guarantees access to online course work.
- 67% of survey respondents agree with a Virginia law that requires students to take at least one online course to graduate.
AAE members also recognize the need for transparency and accountability in funding:
- 95% of survey respondents believe that school budgets should be shared with the public to ensure state/federal monies are being allocated effectively.
- 87% of teachers believe that school districts should be required to provide an annual fiscal report to the public and that district negotiations should be conducted in open public meetings.
One of the most controversial topics in education is the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative. Overall, while the jury is still out on the implementation process and its effect on the flexibility of curriculum, AAE members appear to be moving in the direction of support for consistent standards:
- 36% of respondents believe the CCSS will make the U.S. more competitive on a global scale. 53% believed they would have no effect, and 11% assert that CCSS will have an adverse effect on global competitiveness.
- However, 64% of survey respondents believe that CCSS will provide more consistency in the quality of education between school districts and between states.
- 48% of teachers believe CCSS implementation is running smoothly, while 41% of teachers are neutral, and 11% believe implementation in their state is going poorly.
The long term sustainability of educator pensions have been hot topics as state and local districts feel the effect of the recession on education budgets. In order to insure that educators are compensated fairly and pensions are fully funded, educators are embracing sustainable models:
- 63% of those surveyed would prefer to negotiate their own contract so that they can negotiate a salary and benefits package that best suits their lifestyle.
- 87% would support a defined-contribution retirement plan for newly hired teachers. This system would function like the 401K-style plans typical for the private sector.
- 89% support an a la carte benefits plan where prospective hires could pick and choose salaries and benefits based on personal needs.
"We are proud to represent educators who are embracing commonsense reform for the sake of our students," explained Beckner. "We hope these findings will be a useful tool for reformers and stakeholders on all levels as they consider policies that affect the classroom."
Complete results of the survey can be found at www.aaeteachers.org/2013survey.
The Association of American Educators (AAE) is the largest national, non-union, professional educator's organization, advancing the profession by offering a modern approach to teacher representation and educational advocacy, as well as promoting professionalism, collaboration and excellence without a partisan agenda. AAE members are forward-thinking professionals who are committed to student-centered reform efforts including school/teacher choice, accountability and technology. AAE has members in all 50 states and welcomes professionals from all education entities. Membership is $15 per month which includes $2 million professional liability insurance, employment rights coverage, professional development resources as well as a host of other benefits. Visit aaeteachers.org for further information.