Teachers overwhelmingly say they aren’t being listened to on matters of education policy at the state or national level. At the school level, however, 69 percent of teachers said their opinions carried weight, according to the third edition of the "Primary Sources" survey by Scholastic and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was published Tuesday.
That figure dropped dramatically as the size of the sphere increased. Only one in 20 teachers said they were being heard statewide, and one in 50 teachers felt they had a voice nationally. It would be tough to find a profession facing greater scrutiny by policymakers at every level than what teachers currently experience, which makes it notable that so many of them perceive themselves as not being heard at the levels where most of the major policy decisions are made.
The report is based on a remarkable amount of input, given that more than 20,000 teachers shared their opinions both online and through in-person interviews. At the same time, it’s important to remember that a survey is a snapshot, not a definitive litmus test. As I’ve previously argued, it’s wise to proceed with caution in interpreting the findings.
Teachers overwhelmingly said they joined the profession to make a difference in the lives of children, with 85 percent of those surveyed listing it as one of the reasons. Only 14 percent cited having summer off from work as a reason, and 4 percent chose earning potential as a factor. When asked if the rewards of their profession outweighed the challenges, 46 percent of teachers said they “agree strongly” while 42 percent “agree somewhat.” Only 12 percent disagree. (For more on surveys measuring teacher job satisfaction, and why that’s a tricky question to ask or answer, go here.)