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Education Polls: Where do Americans Really Stand?
posted by: Ruthie | August 23, 2013, 03:18 PM   

Three highly-influential education polls have been released within the past week: the Education Next (EdNext) poll, the Associated Press poll and, now the Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) poll. While all organizations claim to represent the education views of the general public, many of the polls portray conflicting results.

EdNext’s poll showed that the majority of Americans are in favor of the Common Core, believe in the quality of their local schools, and support President Obama’s pre-kindergarten plan. Only a slight majority of Americans favored increase in teacher pay, and opposition to performance-based teacher pay increased from 2012. Lastly, Americans showed increased support for charters, but decreased support for vouchers.

According to Phi Delta Kappa, the 2013 poll revealed a distrust and confusion surrounding standardized tests, and the Common Core, but also confidence in local schools, teachers, principals, and a support of charter schools.  The organization also claims declining support for school choice policies and performance pay.

Unlike the other two polls, The Associated Press only polled parents.  Data revealed that teachers and parents play a bigger part in school quality than the amount of money spent on education and that a teacher’s passion is more important that teaching experience. However, unlike the other surveys, this poll showed less than half of Americans believe in the quality of their local school. Data also showed that parents think teacher pay should be based on a balance of teacher observation, student test scores, and student input. The majority of parents demonstrated the belief that districts should make it easier to fire poor teachers.

Experts argue that the question wording in each poll is clearly tied to the contrasting results.  Without neutral questions, no poll can claim to represent the true views of the public.

At AAE, we also survey members on the merits of education reform and policies that affect classroom teachers. We are a member driven organization and only take positions on issues if our members have been surveyed at a majority. In an effort to accurately portray the “authentic teacher voice,” all AAE member educators are given the equal opportunity to take the survey and members are presented with both sides of the issue. We recognize that a well-informed membership base is instrumental in AAE representing teachers well.

It is critical that we engage educators and the general public in a realistic dialogue about education policy. It’s impossible to engage in an honest debate without authentic information.

What do you think about the results of these polls?
Comment below.

Comments (1)Add Comment
Director of Special Education
written by Kathy Schmeichel, South Dakota, August 23, 2013

Our state has embraced Common Core, applied for and received a waiver and does not have the option of charter schools. I believe in merit pay, but see great difficulties in implementation especially in small K-12 buildings where everyone knows what each person's salaries are. I believe in school choice, but again when you only have one school in a district, choice is not an option. Teachers do not go in to teaching for the pay. Elementary teachers teach because they love children and high school teachers choose teaching because they have a passion for their subject. I firmly believe that teacher preparation programs at the university level do NOT do the job needed in preparing teachers for the 21st century.

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