The TeachStrong campaign brings together teachers unions; teacher voice organizations; and education reform, civil rights, and education policy leaders to make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy issue of 2016.
Washington, D.C. — Nearly three-quarters of Americans believe that teachers are profoundly undervalued despite their important role in society and that a new, comprehensive policy agenda focused around elevating the teaching profession is needed to support educators, according to a new national poll released today. Four out of five Americans also believe that an agenda to elevate the teaching profession and do more to support teachers would improve public education, according to the new poll.
“The majority of Americans rightly recognize educators as a key element in the success of our children and communities, and even more know that the systems, supports, and compensation for teachers are wholly inadequate,” said Catherine Brown, Vice President for Education Policy at the Center for American Progress. “This poll makes it clear that modernizing and elevating the teaching profession should be the top education policy priority for candidates and policymakers alike.”
The poll was conducted by Hart Research Associates and commissioned by TeachStrong, a coalition of 59 leading education groups aimed at making modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy priority of 2016. TeachStrong’s coalition is united by the fundamental belief that creating systems to attract and retain great teachers is the key to establishing an excellent and equitable education system and ensuring success for all students.
Key findings from the poll include:
- The American public believes we profoundly undervalue teachers despite the important role they play.
- While a significant majority of the public—69 percent—believe teachers play a very important role in the continued success and well-being of our communities and country, an even larger proportion—74 percent—believe we undervalue teachers in terms of how they are treated and supported.
- Nearly all those surveyed agreed that changes and improvements are needed in the way we treat teachers.
- Half of adults believe that “a lot” of changes and improvements are needed, and only 3 percent believe that no changes are needed in the way we treat teachers.
- A majority of the public, parents, and teachers believe that an agenda to elevate the teaching profession and do more to support teachers would improve public education.
- Eighty percent of all adults—as well as 77 percent of parents and 76 percent of teachers—agree that all students, especially those from low-income families, deserve to be taught by great teachers; to accomplish this, those same respondents believe we must modernize and elevate the teaching profession. Such improvements will require transforming the systems and policies that support teachers throughout all stages of their careers.
- Republicans and Democrats alike want policymakers to enact an agenda to elevate the teaching profession and support teachers.
- The desire for policymakers to enact this approach to improve education in our public schools is the majority view across the political spectrum. Ninety percent of Democrats, 75 percent of independents, and 64 percent of Republicans want their elected leaders to act.
“The data clearly show that the public wants lawmakers to pursue policies that improve how teachers are treated,” said Geoff Garin, President of Hart Research Associates. There is broad agreement across the political spectrum that we need to do more to support teachers, and that doing so will improve public education for all students.”
The survey was conducted online among 1,881 adults. It includes a national cross-section of 606 K-12th grade public school teachers, 871 adults and an oversample among parents of public school students in K-12th grade, to yield a total of 558 parents. Interviews were conducted in February 2016.
Launched in November 2015, the TeachStrong campaign has quickly grown from 40 organizations to 59. These groups have coalesced around nine key principles that aim to make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education priority of 2016 and beyond. Those principles are:
- Identifying and recruiting more teacher candidates with great potential to succeed, with a deliberate emphasis on diversifying the teacher workforce
- Reimagining teacher preparation to make it more rooted in classroom practice and a professional knowledge base, with universal high standards for all candidates
- Raising the bar for licensure so it is a meaningful measure of readiness to teach
- Increasing compensation in order to attract and reward teachers as professionals
- Providing support for new teachers through induction or residency programs
- Ensuring tenure is a meaningful signal of professional accomplishment
- Providing significantly more time, tools, and support for teachers to succeed, including through planning, collaboration, and development
- Designing professional learning to better address student and teacher needs and to foster feedback and improvement
- Creating career pathways that give teachers opportunities to lead and grow professionally