5th Annual PEPG/EdNext Survey: Readers Weigh In

By 08/03/2011

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The fifth annual survey conducted by Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance and Education Next magazine on a wide range of education policy issues uncovered growing divisions between teachers and the general public.

Education Next readers took the survey. See if their responses resemble those of the general public below.

Teacher Salaries Question: According to the most recent information available, teachers in the United States are paid an average annual salary of $54,819.

Official Survey Results:

Teacher Salaries

Teacher Benefits Question: Some argue that teachers around the nation should be required to pay from their salaries 20 percent of the cost of their health care and pension benefits, with the government covering the remainder.

Official Survey Results:

Teacher Benefits

Teacher Tenure Question: Teachers with tenure cannot be dismissed unless a school district follows detailed procedures. Some say that tenure protects teachers from being fired for arbitrary reasons. Others say that it makes it too difficult to replace ineffective teachers. We want to know what you think of tenure.

Official Survey Results:

Teacher Tenure

Merit Pay Question:

Official Survey Results:

Merit Pay

Teachers Unions Question: Some people say that teacher unions are a stumbling block to school reform. Others say that unions fight for better schools and better teachers. What do you think?

Official Survey Results:

Teachers Unions

Vouchers Question: A proposal has been made that would use government funds to help pay the tuition of low-income students whose families would like them to attend private schools.

Official Survey Results:


Charter Schools Question: As you may know, many states permit the formation of charter schools, which are publicly funded but are not managed by the local school board. These schools are expected to meet promised objectives, but are exempt from many state regulations.

Official Survey Results:

Charter Schools

Digital Learning Question: Another proposal has been made to allow high school students across the country to receive credit for state-approved courses taken over the internet.

Official Survey Results:

Digital Learning

Common Standards Question: For holding schools accountable, should all state governments adopt the same set of educational standards and give the same tests in math, science and reading?

Official Survey Results:

Common Standards

Testing and Accountability Question: Some have proposed that the federal government continue to require that all students be tested in math and reading each year in grades 3-8 and once in high school.

Official Survey Results:

Testing and Accountability

School Spending Question:

Official Survey Results:

School Spending

Class Size Reduction Question: Reducing average class sizes by 3 students would cost roughly the same amount as increasing teacher salaries by $10,000.

Official Survey Results:

Class Size Reduction

Economic Integration Question: Should school districts across the country take the family income of students into account when assigning students to schools

Official Survey Results:

Economic Integration

Comment on this article
  • bdr says:

    Most of these questions have an answer of “it depends” because they solution can be done well or poorly.

    Another question not asked is what to do about recruiting better students into teacher education and raising standards and expectations before they graduate and are certified.
    Anotehr question is about accountaability for all paths to certification

  • Corinne Gregory says:

    I find many of these questions interesting, but they lack context. For example, WHY would parents/teachers support class size reduction? Do they even understand the impact (or lack thereof) of reducing class sizes? Likewise, it’s be interesting to add the follow-up question to teachers who support classroom size reduction; I know what the answer would be. If parents had that same information, i wonder if it would alter their answer.

    The problem is that the public is largely uninformed about what’s really going on in education because they have to rely on what the mass media is reporting and they don’t really get into the details of what goes on behind the scenes. It’s unfortunate, but a tough challenge to overcome.

    For more on the classroom size discussion (and other topics), I invite you to visit http://socialsmarts.wordpress.com/2009/08/03/its-not-the-size-of-the-classroom/ The primary guiding directive to all education reform should always be “how does this improve our children’s education” but the “solutions” to education’s issues rarely start with that goal in mind or we’d really look deeper.

    — Corinne Gregory

  • Doug says:

    False choices on many question. I want to raise teacher pay and cut class size. I refuse to choose one or the other

  • Jason says:

    Doug, there are limited resources so this is not a “false choice”, it’s a real choice that school boards face every year. Your answer is “I want $20,000 so we can do both.” Well tough, your town doesn’t have the funds. Now what? Refusal to face the reality of limited resources is immature and unhelpful.

    Even if you magically got the money, you’d still need to decide how to allocate it.

  • Joe Beckmann says:

    In the Massachusetts Constitution, Harvard is the fourth branch of state government (Chapter 5, here http://www.malegislature.gov/laws/constitution). In short, we have had “charter schools” from the beginning of the country. And, although in fact and in their own constitution, Harvard is really “Massachusetts State College” it seems to be something else…. And that underscores what’s wrong with these questions: they come from “Massachusetts State College” and deal with public/private cooperation in and from a site where that has long died a miserable death.

  • […] Take the poll to see how your opinions compare! […]

  • […] as in Peterson’s argument above. Peterson’s description above is actually even worse than the methods description provided at Ed Next (Interestingly, Peterson also adds over $600 per pupil to the average spending figure, and then […]

  • Linda Aragoni says:

    These questions set up false choices. Choices in education are not black and white, either-or. A school can , for example, choose to increase some class sizes and lower others based educational needs and financial resources. While shoices must be made, they need not be made in blunt-force fashion.

  • Greg says:

    Lack of context for these questions makes this survey useless. For example, education spending has increased every year for the last decade, yet test scores, graduation rates and dropout rates haven’t changed. Spending more money isn’t fixing anything.

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