August 1, 2018

Educators for Excellence Releases Nationwide Survey of Teachers on Education Issues

Aug. 1 (Chicago) — Educators for Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization, released results today from Voices from the Classroom: A Survey of America’s Educators, a ground-breaking national survey of our country’s public school educators. An oversample of Chicago teachers were surveyed to enable deeper, city-level analysis.
Designed by teachers, for teachers, the scientific, nationally representative survey captures crucial insight on the views of public school educators across the country on a wide variety of issues impacting students and the profession, including: economic security, teacher leadership, teacher voice beyond the classroom, school safety and discipline, accountability and school choice. 
“Teachers don’t just teach. We nurture the whole child as coaches, counselors and leaders,” said Kallie Jones, first grade teacher at McDowell Elementary and member of E4E-Chicago. “We have to involve teachers in conversations about education policy because we know what kids need to succeed.”
“Every day teachers are focused on the growth and education of students, our nation’s future,” said Stacy Moore, Interim Executive Director of E4E-Chicago. “Beyond teaching students the academic and life skills needed to be productive members of society, educators become a part of a student’s family. They understand what happens beyond the walls of the classroom. If we, as policymakers, don’t listen to educator perspective, how can we appropriately address the needs of our students?”
Key Findings:

  • Teachers are very concerned about their economic security, so wages, salaries, benefits and job security are top of mind.
    • In Chicago and nationally, a majority of teachers believe financial incentives, such as sign-on bonuses, higher starting salaries and loan forgiveness programs, are the most effective means to recruit talented and diverse teachers, especially in hard-to-staff schools (49 percent Chicago, 48 percent national) and hard-to-staff subjects (45 percent Chicago, 46 percent national).
    • Chicago teachers have more faith in the traditional pension system than teachers nationally, though they are still split between a preference for a pension (51 percent Chicago, 45 percent national) versus a defined contribution plan, such as a 401-k or 403-b (41 percent Chicago, 42 percent national). 
    • And, a substantial majority of Chicago teachers believe inequitable school funding (92 percent) and resource distribution (85 percent) are problems in their state, compared to 84 percent and 81 percent nationally.
  • Teachers are seeking more opportunities to lead while staying in the classroom, particularly as they relate to career pathways.
    • A staggering 93 percent of Chicago teachers and 92 percent of teachers nationally say they wish there were more opportunities to further their careers and professional skills while staying in the classroom.
    • Despite this widespread desire, less than a third of Chicago teachers (30 percent) indicate that they feel supported by their administration to take on leadership roles in their schools, which is five percentage points lower than the national average.
  • Teachers want more opportunity to be heard beyond their classroom and within their unions in order to shape policy at all levels.
    • Ninety-three percent of Chicago teachers and 96 percent of teachers nationally agree that they wish there were more opportunities as teachers to influence education policy that impacts their profession and students.
    • Unfortunately, teachers do not feel their perspective is well represented in policy decisions at the school, union, district or charter network, state, or federal levels. The further teachers are from the decision-making body, the less represented they feel, with just 18 percent of Chicago teachers saying they see their perspective greatly represented in policy at the state level.
  • Teachers are concerned about school safety and want more training to address school violence and improve student behavior using non-punitive strategies.
    • More than four in 10 Chicago teachers (42 percent) report fearing for their own physical safety at least sometimes or often at their school, 11 percentage points above the national average.
    • That said, two-thirds of Chicago teachers (67 percent) believe their school does an excellent or good job at training them to address school violence, compared to 54 percent nationally.
    • To manage discipline and make schools safer, Chicago teachers believe positive behavior reinforcement (79 percent) and restorative practices (71 percent) most effective, greatly preferring them to punitive and exclusionary measures, such as out-of school suspensions (49 percent) and expulsions (54 percent).
      • Nationally, teachers agree that positive behavior reinforcement (74 percent) and restorative practices (64 percent) are most effective, though Chicago teachers are more likely than the national average to believe out-of school suspensions (39 percent nationally) and expulsions (39 percent nationally) are effective.
  • While the National Rifle Association and President Trump have proposed training teachers to carry guns in schools as a way of making schools more secure, 71 percent of Chicago teachers oppose this idea, as do 65 percent of teachers nationally.
  • Teachers believe student growth is the single most important factor in evaluating schools’ and teachers’ effectiveness, but are interested in exploring non-traditional metrics.
    • To evaluate a school’s effectiveness, teachers prefer students’ academic growth (67 percent Chicago, 74 national), but they also want measures of school climate and culture to be considered, such as disciplinary data (33 percent Chicago, 41 percent national) and feedback from students (36 percent Chicago, 30 percent national).
    • In evaluations of their own effectiveness, in addition to students’ academic growth (53 percent Chicago, 64 national), teachers value students’ daily work, projects and portfolios (47 percent Chicago, 45 percent national). 
  • Teachers are open to school choice options, as long as they do not drain resources from public schools, are equally accessible to all students and provide positive outcomes for low-income students.
    • Chicago teachers are more supportive of school choice options than the national average:
      • 63 percent of Chicago teachers and 48 percent of teachers nationally support school tax credits for low-income students
      • 52 percent of Chicago teachers and 28 percent nationally support low-income school vouchers
      • 45 percent of Chicago teachers and 21 percent of teachers nationally support universal school vouchers.
      • 43 percent of Chicago teachers and 31 percent of teachers nationally support charter schools.
    • A majority of Chicago teachers and all public school teachers support school choice as long as it:
      • Is equally accessible to all students: 60 percent Chicago, 64 percent national
      • Doesn’t shift funds from public schools: 57 percent Chicago, 64 percent national
      • Doesn’t discriminate against students: 55 percent Chicago, 58 percent national
    • And, only six percent of Chicago teachers and teachers nationally are opposed to school choice in any form.

The full report provides details on each of these trends and includes an analysis of the responses from three groups of teachers because of their unique perspectives: early career educators, teachers in underserved communities and teachers of color.
To download the complete report, visit
Survey Methodology: 
The survey was conducted online from April 14-May 6, 2018, among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 full-time traditional public school and public charter school teachers and an additional sample of 100 Chicago teachers. The survey questionnaire was developed in consultation with E4E member teachers from across the U.S. The survey instrument was written and administered by Gotham Research Group, an independent, New York-based research firm.