Education Opinion

PDK/Gallup Poll Shows Public Support for Teachers

By Learning Forward — August 22, 2011 2 min read
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In the wake of today’s release of the 43rd Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, we use this opportunity to reassert the responsibility of school systems to ensure we meet the expectations of parents and students - quality teaching for every student every day.

In introducing the results from this year’s poll, PDK International Executive Director Bill Brushaw and Gallup Senior Scientist Shane J. Lopez write: “With all the heated discourse about American public education -- documentary films, opinion articles in newspapers, and more opinions on blogs -- or perhaps despite them, Americans have reached their own conclusions about what’s necessary to ensure a good education for all children: Identify and retain great teachers. Not only do Americans understand the need for great teachers, they also trust and support teachers who are in classrooms now. And when it comes to choosing between highly effective teachers versus class size or the style of presentation, they go with teachers every time.”

The good news is that respect for the profession overall remains high, and it appears that more people today would recommend teaching to a child or friend. As a nation, if we can continue to make teaching an attractive and respected profession we can position ourselves better to compete with higher-performing countries.

Respect alone, however, does not guarantee an effective teacher. All educators require opportunities to continue to learn and hone their skills. New common core state standards and forthcoming assessments outline new expectations for classroom instruction and assessments of student progress. All this demands that educators make substantive change in their practice.

The report references the International Summit on the Teaching Profession and the unifying theme that emerged from the summit: Nations that have invested in improving teacher quality have realized the largest gains in student achievement. The poll reflects that Americans have reached the same conclusion.

The results of this year’s poll reaffirm Americans’ trust in and respect for their local schools and teachers, but also reflect an increasing level of concern for our nation’s schools as a whole. Americans’ interest in the national education debate can be viewed as one piece of evidence of its support for better schools for all students. While a number of issues relate to how we ensure all students have access to the highest quality education, including teachers, technology, charters, and more, what remains constant in all domains is the need for quality teaching and highly skilled teachers.

Our parents are supportive of preparing our students for new challenges, and we have an obligation to meet their expectations. Over the next several years we must ensure all educators engage in transformative professional learning that truly shifts their beliefs, their knowledge, and their practice. I am confident we can achieve this, and that through this shift respect will spread from our local school systems to our nation as a whole, and most importantly, students will benefit from our neighborhood schools to the most impoverished communities throughout this country.

Stephanie Hirsh
Executive Director, Learning Forward

The opinions expressed in Learning Forward’s PD Watch are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.