August 1, 2018

Educators for Excellence Releases Nationwide Survey of Teachers on Education Issues

Aug. 1 (Los Angeles) — 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 Los Angeles 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. 
 
“When people talk about education policy - how we do our job, and what’s best for our students - teachers should be a part of those conversations,” said Christina Kim, Title III instructional coach for the Los Angeles Unified School District and member of E4E-Los Angeles. “This survey is a tool education stakeholders can use to make sure teacher voice is at the core of their decisions.”
 
“LAUSD has to make some tough choices about how to create safer campuses, equitably fund schools, fairly compensate employees and make wise long-term investments to preserve and strengthen public education for future generations,” said Ama Nyamekye, Executive Director of E4E-Los Angeles. “This report provides an honest take on what teachers in LA really think, fear and hope for during this crucial moment in public education. As LAUSD evaluates contracts, budgets and school structures, decision-makers would be wise to consider the perspectives of those working on the front lines of our schools.”
 
Key Findings:

  • Teachers are very concerned about their economic security, so wages, salaries, benefits and job security are top of mind.
    • In Los Angeles 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 (55 percent Los Angeles, 48 percent national) and hard-to-staff subjects (49 percent Los Angeles, 46 percent national).
    • Los Angeles teachers are torn in their faith in the traditional pension system, with slightly more teachers saying they would prefer a defined contribution plan, such as a 401-k or 403-b (47 percent), as they would a pension (45 percent), deviating slightly from teachers nationally (42 percent and 45 percent, respectively).
    • And, a substantial majority of Los Angeles teachers believe inequitable school funding (85 percent) and resource distribution (84 percent) are problems in their state, as do 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 91 percent of Los Angeles 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 Los Angeles teachers (30 percent) indicate that they feel supported by their administration to take on leadership roles in their schools, 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 Los Angeles teachers and 96 percent of teachers nationally agreed 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 13 percent of Los Angeles 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.
    • A majority of Los Angeles teachers (58 percent) report fearing for their own physical safety at least sometimes or often at their school, which is a staggering 27 percentage points above the national average.Yet, almost two-thirds of Los Angeles teachers (62 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, Los Angeles teachers believe positive behavior reinforcement (77 percent) and restorative practices (60 percent) are most effective, preferring them to punitive and exclusionary measures, such as out-of school suspensions (49 percent) and expulsions (50 percent).
      • Similarly, nationally, teachers see positive behavior reinforcement (74 percent) and restorative practices (64 percent) most effective, preferring them to out-of school suspensions (39 percent) and expulsions (39 percent).
    • 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 Los Angeles 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 (69 percent Los Angeles, 74 national), but they also want measures of school climate and culture to be considered, such as disciplinary data (47 percent Los Angeles, 41 percent national).
    • In evaluations of their own effectiveness, in addition to students’ academic growth (55 percent Los Angeles, 64 national), teachers value students’ daily work, projects and portfolios (42 percent Los Angeles, 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.
    • Los Angeles teachers are more supportive of school choice options than the national average: 
      • 50 percent of Los Angeles teachers and 48 percent of teachers nationally support school tax credits for low-income students.
      • 46 percent of Los Angeles teachers and 28 percent of teachers nationally support low-income school vouchers.
      • 40 percent of Los Angeles teachers and 31 percent of teachers nationally support charter schools.
      • 30 percent Los Angeles teachers and 21 percent of teachers nationally support universal school vouchers.
    • A majority of Los Angeles teachers and all public school teachers support school choice as long as it:
      • Doesn’t shift funds from public schools: 66 percent Los Angeles, 64 percent national
      • Doesn’t discriminate against students: 54 percent Los Angeles, 58 percent national
      • Increases academic achievement for low-income students: 52 percent Los Angeles, 51 percent national
    • And, only three percent of Los Angeles teachers and six percent of 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 e4e.org/teachersurvey
 
“Teacher voice is important because we are the ones in the classroom. It’s as simple as that,” said Isaiah Sago, high school math teacher at Dorothy Johnson Community Day School and member of E4E-Los Angeles.
 
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 Los Angeles 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.
 

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