Most Americans say teachers in their community aren’t paid enough

Jamie BallardData Journalist
August 27, 2019, 4:00 PM UTC

As America’s teachers head back to school this week, many will likely stop at the store to pick up supplies for their students. But should they? 

Though schools may provide some classroom supplies for teachers, many rely on donations from parents, as well as their own money, to buy items for the classroom.  A clear majority (85%) of Americans say that teachers should not be expected to spend money out of their own pocket on classroom supplies. 

Over three-fourths  (77%) of Americans believe that being a public school teacher is a difficult job. A majority (53%) also believe that teachers in their community are paid too little for the work they do, while roughly a quarter (23%) say they’re paid about the right amount. 

Democrats (70%) are especially likely to believe that teachers are being paid too little for the work that they do. About half (51%) of Independents and four in 10 (40%) Republicans agree. 

Americans also largely support the rights of teachers to unionize and to go on strike, though there are some partisan differences. 

A majority (54%) of Americans say that they support public school teachers’ right to collectively bargain (form unions). Democrats (76%) are especially likely to support public school teachers’ right to unionize, though Republicans tend to disagree: 35 percent are in support, while 46 percent are opposed. 

Earlier this year, public school teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District went on strike to protest low pay, large class sizes, and inadequate support staff, among other issues. The teachers’ union and the school district ultimately came to an agreement which included a 6 percent pay raise for teachers, a reduction in class size for certain grade levels, and a commitment to provide a full-time nurse in every school. In 2018, teachers in several states including West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona also went on strike to call for higher pay and improved working conditions.

YouGov data finds that about half (51%) of Americans believe strikes are an effective way for teachers to get what they want, but 40% also say that teacher strikes ultimately hurt students. Just over one-third of Americans (35%) say that teacher strikes ultimately benefit students. 

See full results from this survey here

Methodology: Total unweighted sample size was 1,221 US adults ages 18+. The responding sample is weighted to provide a representative reporting sample of the US. The survey was conducted online from July 30 - 31, 2019.

Related: A majority of Americans say school lunch should be free

Image: Getty

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