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7 of 10 Parents Want Their Child to Become a Teacher

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Yahoo News: The majority of Americans give their local public schools good grades, but they rate U.S. schools as a whole lower, expressing concerns about everything from paltry funding to high dropout rates.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
In a poll released Wednesday, 45 percent also give President Obama an "A" or "B" for his handling of school issues. "They support his positions on early-childhood education, merit pay for teachers, charter schools, and the use of stimulus money to save teachers' jobs," said William Bushaw, executive director of Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK), in a phone call with reporters. His group, a global association of educators, helped conduct the PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

Support for Mr. Obama doesn't necessarily mean smooth sailing ahead, however, when Congress eventually takes up debate over reauthorizing No Child Left Behind (NCLB). That's the major education law passed with bipartisan support in 2001 under President Bush.

A majority (66 percent) approve of giving annual tests in Grades 3 through 8, as NCLB requires. But overall support for the law has declined in recent years, with 28 percent now viewing NCLB favorably and 48 percent unfavorably.

John Wilson, executive director of the National Education Association union, attributes the low rating to two factors: "The funding that was promised under No Child Left Behind never happened; and [there were] unintended consequences of schools [being] labeled failing" because parents often had a different perception of the schools, he said during the press call.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans now favor charter schools, although many are confused about how they operate. Charters have much more flexibility than traditional public schools, but less than half of the public understands that they are indeed public schools and are not allowed to charge tuition or teach religion.

The favorable view of charters may be based on anecdotes or on support from the Obama administration, says Kevin Chavous, who is an advocate for school choice as a distinguished fellow at the Center for Education Reform in Washington. "Charters now are viewed as part of the solution ... It means we have to break out of this one-size-fits-all paradigm," he says.

Americans show a high regard for teachers: Seven out of 10 say they'd like their child to become a public-school teacher, the highest proportion in 30 years. And they believe that beginning teachers in their community should earn about $10,000 more.

They also have high expectations: Seventy-four percent say there should be national standards for teacher certification. And 72 percent favor merit pay, with support bridging political parties. The top criteria people say should be used in determining merit pay include advanced degrees, students' test scores, and administrators' evaluations.

A bipartisan advisory panel determined the questions for the poll, which was completed by a nationally representative sample of about 1,000 adults in June. The PDK/Gallup Poll has been tracking opinions on education annually since 1969.

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5 comments so far | Post a comment now
ame i. August 27, 2009, 5:49 PM

The average public school teacher with 20 years teaching experience in my state only earns an average of 40K a year. I would not encourage either of my children to teach unless on a university level and I’m not even sure that is a good idea.

Gail Cooke August 27, 2009, 6:04 PM

I agree with ame i. Why would one encourage a child to go for such a low paying, high stress job? It would be like encouraging a kid to go into Office Administration….low pay, no hope for a good future. Kids should be encouraged to get better jobs than that.

Jill August 27, 2009, 9:04 PM

When I was younger, that’s all my dad told me was to be a teacher. Somewhere along the way I lost voice and went a long with plan. I was almost finished with my degree, when I realized teaching didn’t make me happy. I spent so much time and money investing my self into something that pays so little and that go’s unnoticed.

K August 27, 2009, 9:52 PM

Does anyone remember what gratification is? Teaching has to be one of the most gratifying jobs and I wish I would have chosen that path. Everything I have read here so far is about the money? All the teachers I know are good people and I truly believe that most teachers are teaching because they care about our children. I think that teachers do DESERVE more money! Instead of discouraging our children from being a teacher maybe we need to focus on changing teacher pay scales! They do have one of the most important jobs out there!
Jill I DO notice and appreciate all of the teachers my children have had. I think we all need to recognize the teachers in our lives.


Kirstie August 27, 2009, 10:44 PM

Maybe my area is uncommon, but I know teachers at the high school I attended were making 70-75k a year, having been there 10+ years with tenure. Most of my friends who are teaching now started at about 40k a year.

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