Aug. 1 (Washington, D.C.) — 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.
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.”
“Far too often decision-makers create education policies without meaningful input from teachers, and frequently these decisions directly conflict with teachers’ priorities,” said Evan Stone, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of E4E. “As the country continues to grapple with how to close opportunity gaps, prepare students for a changing workforce and adjust to a shifting political landscape, our hope is that researchers, administrators and decision-makers can use these results to include teacher perspective in their future decisions and do what’s best for educators and their students.”
- Teachers are very concerned about their economic security, so wages, salaries, benefits and job security are top of mind.
- 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 (48 percent) and hard-to-staff subjects (46 percent).
- They are torn in their faith in the traditional pension system, with nearly equal percentages of teachers saying they would prefer either a pension (45 percent) or a defined contribution plan, such as a 401-k or 403-b (42 percent).
- And, a substantial majority of teachers believe inequitable school funding (84 percent) and resource distribution (81 percent) are problems in their states.
- Teachers are seeking more opportunities to lead while staying in the classroom, particularly as they relate to career pathways.
- A staggering 92 percent of teachers 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 half of teachers (35 percent) indicate that they feel supported by their administration to take on leadership roles in their schools.
- Teachers want more opportunity to be heard beyond their classroom and within their unions in order to shape policy at all levels.
- No other question in the survey garnered a more unanimous response than the 96 percent of teachers who 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 six percent of teachers saying they see their perspective greatly represented in policy at the federal level.
- Teachers are concerned about school safety and want more training to address school violence and improve student behavior using non-punitive strategies.
- Nearly one out of three teachers (31 percent) report fearing for their own physical safety at least sometimes or often at their school.
- And only slightly more than half of teachers (54 percent) believe their school does an excellent or good job at training them to address school violence.
- To manage discipline and make schools safer, teachers believe positive behavior reinforcement (74 percent) and restorative practices (64 percent) most effective, greatly preferring them to punitive and exclusionary measures, such as 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, 65 percent of teachers oppose this idea, with more than 50 percent expressing strong opposition and only 10 percent saying they are strongly in favor.
- 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 (74 percent), but they also want measures of school climate and culture to be considered, such as disciplinary data (41 percent), as well as feedback from students (30 percent) and parents (25 percent).
- In evaluations of their own effectiveness, in addition to students’ academic growth (64 percent), teachers value students’ daily work, projects and portfolios (45 percent).
- 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.
- Less than one-third of teachers support universal school vouchers (21 percent), low-income school vouchers (28 percent), or charter schools (31 percent), while 48 percent support school tax credits for low-income students.
- A majority of public school teachers, including unionized teachers, support school choice as long as it doesn’t shift funds from public schools (64 percent), is equally accessible to all students (64 percent) and doesn’t discriminate against students (58 percent).
- And, only six percent of teachers are opposed to school choice in any form.
The survey data is remarkably consistent across major demographic groups, by region, between unionized versus non-unionized teachers and even considering school characteristics, such as grade levels taught or school size. However, the full report 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.
“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.”
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. 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.