Teachers in Arizona and Colorado are walking out of class today to demand better pay and more education funding from their state legislatures. Their actions follow teacher strikes and walkouts in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. Meanwhile, a new poll finds most people support teachers' right to strike and believe they're underpaid.
The Ipsos/NPR poll released today used an online survey of 1,005 American adults including Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. The poll found that 63 percent of people approve of national teachers unions and 75 percent agree that public school teachers have a right to strike.
On the strike question, support was unsurprisingly highest among Democrats, but more than half—67 percent—of Republicans also said they believe public school teachers have the right to strike. Asked whether public school teachers are paid fairly, just 26 percent said yes.
Here in Seattle, teachers went on strike for five days in 2015. They advocated not just for better pay but improvements on equity issues like achievement gaps, disproportionate discipline, and recess time. In the end, they won pay increases, changes to testing rules, and lower student-teacher ratios for special education teachers.
Other questions in the NPR poll asked about whether teachers' unions improve the quality of education (51 percent agree) and whether they make it harder to fire bad teachers (63 percent agree). Asked about the issues they find "most worrying," respondents' top three picks were crime or gun violence, terrorism, and healthcare. Just 14 percent said education, ranking that below immigration, "political extremism or polarization," and nuclear conflict. Read more about the results here.