Friday, June 27, 2008

Does Teacher Opinion Matter?

Sorry for my sudden disappearance -- I've been off trying to deal with more important issues.

The NY Times ran an article this morning about the survey the UFT recently conducted of NYC teachers (UFT press release here, full results here). In short, it seems that teachers don't particularly like Chancellor Klein.

Methodological concerns aside, I wonder if these results matter.

I think a strong argument can be made that teachers' feelings about a particular reform will greatly influence how they implement said reform, but I wonder about their feelings toward things that are more removed from their immediate situation. Does a teacher's love or hatred for Joel Klein affect how they go about their daily business? Does it make them less satisfied with their jobs? Does it make them less likely to implement reforms he pushes? Or is "Chancellor Klein" too much of an abstraction to matter much when teaching a roomful of kids?


Anonymous said...


The questions on the UFT survey weren't of the form "I think Chancellor Klein is a jerk," or "I don't like Chancellor Klein" -- they were an effort to create some sense of balance regarding accountability metrics for the performance of the NYC system. Sure, it's largely symbolic, but why isn't it relevant that 85% of the responding teachers believe the Chancellor needs to do a better job providing them the support they need as educators, or that 82% want the Chancellor to do a better job focusing on the academic, social and physical development of the whole child? Aren't NYC teachers well-positioned to have informed opinions on how they experience the educational reforms the Chancellor has set in motion?

Nancy Flanagan said...

Does Teacher Opinion Matter?


Do auto industry line workers' opinions matter (relative to the quality of cars built)? Yes.

Do child care providers' opinions matter (relative to the quality of care)? Yes.

Do nurses' opinions matter?
Do police officers' opinions matter?
Do we want airline pilots feeling good about the work they do, or stepping into the cockpit ticked off about their 27% pay cut?

And on, and on.

eduwonkette said...

Hi Corey,

Glad to see you're back!

I don't see any methodological problems here - the questions were fairly worded, the response rate was very high, and I don't see any reason to believe that teachers who approve of the job he's doing would be likely to disapprove just because the union administered the survey. Even if a small fraction of them did, the numbers are so overwhelming that a majority of teachers would still disapprove of the job he's doing.