August 1, 2018

Educators for Excellence Releases Nationwide Survey of Teachers on Education Issues

Aug. 1 (St. Paul, MN) — 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 Minnesota 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. 
“We have invaluable perspectives on education from teaching students every day,” said Cristina Benz, art teacher at Washburn High School and member of E4E-Minnesota. “I hope this survey informs the work of politicians, district leaders and other educators to make positive change for our students.”
"Decision-makers rarely get the opportunity to hear from a diverse range of educator perspectives to help them craft education policies,” said Madaline Edison, Executive Director of E4E-Minnesota. “We hope these survey results give decision-makers an opportunity to include teacher voice in future policymaking. As leaders in Minnesota move forward to address educational inequities and implement a new accountability system under the Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA), it's essential that educator voices are represented in these decisions."
Key Findings:

  • Teachers are very concerned about their economic security, so wages, salaries, benefits and job security are top of mind.
    • In Minnesota 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 (46 percent Minnesota, 48 percent national) and hard-to-staff subjects (42 percent Minnesota, 46 percent national). Minnesota teachers have more faith in the traditional pension system than teachers nationally, with 54 percent of Minnesota teachers saying they would prefer a pension and 40 percent saying they would prefer a defined contribution plan, such as a 401-k or 403-b.
      • Nationally, nearly as many teachers say they would prefer a defined contribution plan (42 percent) as they would a pension (45 percent).
    • And, a substantial majority of Minnesota teachers believe inequitable school funding (81 percent) and resource distribution (73 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.
    • Seventy-nine percent of Minnesota 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 desire, less than a quarter of Minnesota teachers (24 percent) indicate that they feel supported by their administration to take on leadership roles in their schools, eleven 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 Minnesota 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 five percent of Minnesota 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.
    • One-third of Minnesota teachers (32 percent) report fearing for their own physical safety at least sometimes or often at their school, similar to the national average (31 percent).
    • Nearly half of Minnesota teachers (49 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, Minnesota teachers believe positive behavior reinforcement (78 percent) and restorative practices (57 percent) most effective, greatly preferring them to punitive and exclusionary measures, such as out-of school suspensions (43 percent) and expulsions (39 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, 67 percent of Minnesota 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 (76 percent Minnesota, 74 national), but they also want measures of school climate and culture to be considered, such as disciplinary data (47 percent Minnesota, 41 percent national) and graduation rates (40 percent Minnesota, 24 percent national).
    • In evaluations of their own effectiveness, in addition to students’ academic growth (68 percent Minnesota, 64 national), teachers value students’ daily work, projects and portfolios (41 percent Minnesota, 45 percent national) and observations by other teachers (39 percent Minnesota, 34 percent national) or administrators (39 percent Minnesota, 35 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.
    • Minnesota teachers have mixed feelings about school choice options:
      • 56 percent of Minnesota teachers and 48 percent of teachers nationally support school tax credits for low-income students.
      • 36 percent Minnesota teachers and 31 percent of teachers nationally support charter schools.
      • 27 percent of Minnesota teachers and 28 percent nationally support low-income school vouchers.
      • 25 percent Minnesota teachers and 21 percent of teachers nationally support universal school vouchers.
    • A majority of Minnesota teachers and all public school teachers support school choice as long as it:
      • Is equally accessible to all students: 65 percent Minnesota, 64 percent national
      • Doesn’t shift funds from public schools: 59 percent Minnesota, 64 percent national
      • Doesn’t discriminate against students: 51 percent Minnesota, 58 percent national
    • And, only five percent of Minnesota 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
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 50 Minnesota 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.