Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Someone Asked What Teachers Think?

As a former teacher, it is my personal bias that teachers are not frequently enough included in the policy-making process. It seems like we often analyze everything except for what teachers think. Meanwhile, it seems like an awful lot of reforms fail b/c teachers don't adopt them.

Well, a team from Education Sector just released the results of a national teacher survey. More than one blog post will be devoted to this, but for this one I'd like to look at the opinion questions that resulted in the most lopsided responses (>70% agreeing with one side). For the sake of brevity, I'll summarize each question, but I'll put the actual number from the survey next to it and you can read the full question from the report if you want more information (and let me know if my summary is unfair).

-81% of teachers agree that negative press coverage prevents the most talented people from entering teaching (9)

-80% agree that teachers are "rarely consulted about what happens in their school" (6)

-86% agree that teachers are required to do too much paperwork

-85% say that more prep and planning time is a good or excellent idea to help recruit better teachers into the field (14)

-78% of teachers say the same about easing rules on coming out of retirement (15)

-71% say that offering "substantially higher starting salaries in exchange for smaller pensions when they retire" is only a fair or poor idea for helping to recruit better teachers (16)

-80% strongly or somewhat favor giving "Teachers who work in tough neighborhoods with low-performing schools" financial incentives (23)

-79% said the unionization of the teaching force was not a consideration in choosing a career (37)

-84% say the same about the considerable job protection in teaching (38)

-75% agree that "Teachers facing unfair charges from parents or students would have nowhere to turn without the union" (46)

-75% agree that "Without collective bargaining, the working conditions and salaries of teachers would be much worse" (48)

-77% agree that "Without a union, teachers would be vulnerable to school politics or administrators who abuse their power" (49)

-76% say that unions "Effectively negotiate contracts, salary, and benefits on behalf of teachers"(54A)

-84% say that unions "Protect teachers through due process and grievance procedures" (57A)

-79% say that unions "Regularly inform teachers about their benefits, rights, and responsibilities" (60A)

More on this later but, at first glance, it appears that teachers think that:

1. they aren't given enough respect
2. their time isn't allocated in the best way possible
3. unions are doing some good things

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