Survey: Public support for teacher pay increase grows
- A recent survey reveals that 67% of respondents feel that teachers should get a pay increase, up from 61% last year; and, even though those numbers drop significantly when people learn how much teachers actually make, the number of informed people who approve a teacher pay increase has risen from 36% to 49% over the past year, Chalkbeat reports.
- Researchers feel that this increase in the level of support, which has increased across party lines and more in states that staged recent protests, may be fueled by the attention drawn by the walkouts, the improvement in the economy, or both.
- The survey also indicated that agency fees and the use of race or income to assign students to schools are unpopular with the public, though support for charter schools and vouchers has increased. Teachers tend to oppose charter schools, and vouchers, and merit pay — at wide contrast with the general public.
With the new school year poised to begin, potential teacher protests are already on the horizon in the Yakima School District and Seattle Public Schools in Washington and more protests are expected this year. In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards is already planning to ask for more money for teachers. Even though some people argue that teacher protests hurt students, they seem to be producing some results. Education Week reported concerning the recent survey, “In the six states where there were widescale teacher strikes and walkouts — West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Colorado — 63% of respondents favored raising teacher pay. Public support in those states jumped by 16 percentage points since last year.”
The protests come near the end of what the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calls “A Punishing Decade for School Funding.” Though teacher pay and student spending levels vary widely from state to state, many states still lag behind pre-recession funding levels. With greater attention focused on these issues and an improving economy, it's possible more states will opt to improve school funding levels so that teachers will be able to focus less attention on protests and more on increasing student achievement.