National News Roundup
Teachers' attitudes toward public education differ markedly from those of the general public, according to a new Gallup Poll completed in conjunction with Phi Delta Kappa, the professional education fraternity, and published in the October issue of Phi Delta Kappan magazine.
Of the 813 teachers who responded to the poll, 64 percent gave public schools a grade of A or B. Only 42 percent of the general public, an3swering a similar question in a Gallup poll last spring, gave schools those marks. (See Education Week, Aug. 22, 1984).
The teachers polled also said they consider parents' lack of support as the most serious problem faced by schools, followed by lack of adequate financial support, pupils' lack of interest in academics, and truancy. In previous Gallup polls, adults surveyed have consistently ranked discipline as the worst problem facing schools.
While the teachers polled said they think highly of their peers--78 percent gave fellow teachers a grade of A or B--they oppose the idea of merit pay by a margin of 2 to 1, mostly because of the difficulty of ensuring a fair evaluation, according to the poll. Nine out of 10 teachers polled also said that teachers' salaries are too low.
On other aspects of proposed school reforms, 63 percent of the teachers surveyed said teachers should be required to pass a competency test in their subject area; 47 percent said four-year colleges should raise entrance requirements; and 52 percent opposed the proposal that students be promoted from grade to grade only if they pass examinations.
The purpose of the survey, in which a national random sample of 2,000 teachers received questionnaires, was twofold, according to Alec Gallup, vice chairman of the Gallup Organization. Writing in Phi Delta Kappan, Mr. Gallup said the poll was designed "to establish a base-point or benchmark measurement from which to track opinion trends in subsequent surveys" and to compare teachers' attitudes with those of the general public.