Most Americans are Happy with Public School Teachers

43rd PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools

Americans, and parents in particular, evaluate their community schools more positively than in any year since Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK) and Gallup started asking Americans to grade local schools in 1984. An all-time high of 37% of parents give their child's school an A grade, up sharply from 19% in 2007.

View a summary of the 2011 Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK) and Gallup  of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools: 

A majority of Americans continue to see teaching as a desirable profession and understand many of the challenges classroom teachers currently face in our public schools. In terms of the best ways to transform public education, there is strong support for teachers—recruiting, training, and retaining great teachers.  Americans polled, in significant numbers, said the lack of financial support is the biggest problem facing public schools.

Here are a few of more findings:

  • More than 70 percent of Americans said that they have trust and confidence in the men and women who are teaching in public schools. The percentage of Americans who would grade their local schools as A’s or B’s continues to be at an all-time high. The percentage was even higher among people under the age of 40.
  • 69 percent of Americans would grade teachers in their communities with an A or B – higher than their principals or school boards. This confidence also exists despite the fact that most Americans said that they hear more bad stories than good stories about teachers in the news media.

Additional results included:

  • 76 percent of Americans believe that high-achieving high school students should be recruited to become teachers
  • Nearly 75 percent would encourage the brightest person they know to become a teacher
  • 67 percent of respondents said that they would like to have their child become a public school teacher
  • 77 percent of Americans feel that preparing students for a college or career was the most important reason for high schools to use more computer technology in classrooms. Only 14 percent indicated that the school should achieve this by hiring fewer teachers to reduce costs.
  • 73 percent of Americans feel that education policies should give teachers flexibility to teach in ways they think are best, rather than policies requiring teachers to follow a prescribed curriculum so that all students learn the same content

View the entire report

Phi Delta Kappa (PDK), a leading professional association for educators, released its 2011 poll on the public’s attitudes of public education. The PDK/Gallup Poll, conducted annually since 1969, is a scientifically based survey of approximately 1,000 respondents, 18 years and older.  The 2011 poll was conducted by telephone in June.  
The annual PD/Gallup poll often revisits questions asked in previous years and the pollsters also put together a panel of advisors each year to help identify emerging education issues. NEA’s Director of Government Relations Kim Anderson was a member of this year’s advisory panel. WEAC president Mary Bell authored a commentary in the poll.  

Issues explored in this year’s poll include teacher recruitment, collective bargaining, education quality, digital learning and technology, school choice, and President Obama’s support for public education.


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