Most Americans Believe Teachers Have a Big Impact, But Are Paid Unfairly
Ipsos/USA Today poll shows broad support for local public school teachers, along with recent strikes
Washington, DC, September 12, 2018 — Teachers are often thought to be an important factor in students’ education success and personal growth. In fact, according to an Ipsos/USA Today poll, three-quarters (73%) of Americans say that growing up, a teacher made a significant, positive impact on their life. Six in 10 (61%) parents of children under 18 would even encourage their own child to become a teacher. Three-quarters (76%) say that they approve of teachers in their local public school district, and 61% approve of their local school district leadership.
Though views of teachers are largely positive, the poll shows some underlying issues with the education profession. After a series of teacher strikes across the country earlier this year, two-thirds of Americans support public school teachers’ right to strike. A majority (59%) of Americans do not believe that public school teachers are compensated fairly, and 78% agree that teachers spend too much of their own money on school supplies.
While the opinion of Republicans and Democrats do not differ widely on the performance of teachers themselves, politics seem to come to play in the evaluation of teacher unions, private/charter schools, and The U.S. Department of Education leadership. Half of Americans (48%) believe that teachers’ unions improve the quality of education, but Democrats are almost twice as likely as Republicans to agree with the statement (64% vs. 36% of Republicans). Americans are also divided on whether teachers’ unions improve the quality of teachers (50%); two-thirds of Democrats agree, compared to 38% of Republicans. A majority of all Americans (66%) believe teachers’ unions make it harder to fire bad teachers, though Republicans (77%) are more likely than Democrats (60%) to hold this view. More than 1 in 3 Republicans (35%) disapprove of public school teachers’ right to strike, versus 17% of Democrats.
In contrast, Republicans (74%) are significantly more likely than Democrats (49%) to believe that private and charter schools provide better education than public schools. Opinions about The U.S. Department of Education leadership are also highly politicized, as one third (32%) of Democrats say they strongly disapprove, versus only a tiny fraction (8%) of Republicans.
About the Study
These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted August 9-13, 2018, on behalf of USA Today. For the survey, a sample of roughly 2,010 adults 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii were interviewed online in English. The sample includes 695 Republicans, 693 Democrats, and 419 Independents.
The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2013 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.
Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=2,010, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-4 percentage points).
The poll also has a credibility interval plus or minus 4.2 percentage points Republicans, 4.2 percentage points for Democrats, and 5.5 for Independents.
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