Americans say the No. 1 way to improve schools is to raise teacher quality, according to a recent poll commissioned by the Public Education Network and Education Week.
In a national telephone poll of 800 registered voters, 29 percent chose raising teacher quality as their top priority for improving education. Equalizing funding between rich and poor schools came in second, at 16 percent. Letting for-profit companies manage schools came in last out of eight choices, at just 1 percent. The poll has a margin of error of three percentage points.
In the first PEN-Education Week poll, conducted in 2001, 30 percent of the respondents chose raising teacher quality as their top priority, and 18 percent picked equalizing school funding. The poll project is part of an ongoing effort to gauge public support for public education.
A surprising number of Americans also have a teacher in the family. In fact, according to the 2002 poll, nearly three in 10 Americans—or 29 percent—are teachers or have close family members who are current or former teachers. That 29 percent is particularly closely focused on public education issues and elected officials’ responses to schools’ needs, the pollsters said.
—Mary-Ellen Phelps Deily
“Accountability for All: What Voters Want From Education Candidates” is available on the Web at www.publiceducation.org.
A version of this article appeared in the July 10, 2002 edition of Education Week as Teaching Quality Viewed as Crucial