VU poll finds most Tennesseans believe teachers are underpaid

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 1:38pm
Staff reports

The majority of Tennessean voters surveyed by a Vanderbilt University poll think teachers in the state are both underpaid and should be represented by unions.

The university’s Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions polled 1,423 people between Oct. 28 and Nov. 5 to find that 71 percent believed teachers were underpaid. Eight percent said teachers were overpaid.

Also, 40 percent disapproved of a new state law limiting the ability of teachers unions to negotiate contracts for schoolteachers, while 39 percent approved of the limitations.

Josh Clinton, associate professor of political science and co-director of the center, said there was disagreement among state voters regarding how to improve education.

“For example, Republicans and Democrats largely agree that teachers in Tennessee are underpaid (60 percent and 81 percent respectively agree),” Clinton said, “but people disagree about possible remedies. Notable partisan differences began to emerge once citizens were asked about the role of unions or specific policy initiatives aimed at improving the educational system in Tennessee.”

Voters were dubious about motivating teachers with economic incentives. Fifty-eight percent objected to the concept of paying teachers more for good test results from their students, and just over half disagreed with the concept of paying teachers more for working in low-income areas.

The respondents ranked education as the number two priority for state government, although at 17 percent it ranked well below the economy and jobs as the top priority, picked first by 59 percent. Sixty-two percent favored spending tax dollars to expand pre-kindergarten programs.

Respondents were undecided about the No Child Left Behind Act, the legacy of the George W. Bush administration on education. Half of those who responded said the act should not be reauthorized by Congress, while 39 percent thought that it should.

More data from the poll can be found here.

7 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 11/15/11 at 4:56

The article is correct. Teachers are the back-bone of society. Every child or person that is reading or doing anything in life to make a living can thank a teacher. The GOP is becoming so mean and out of touch that they can not stay in power. TN as a whole will suffer. The teachers need and deserve collective bargaining.

By: govskeptic on 11/16/11 at 6:23

If your poll includes a large number that are as uninformed as pswindle then
these incorrect conclusions will be reached. With such a large portion of the
population of this state making low wages and paying little or no federal taxes
there are few spending proposals those that depend on land lines don't
support. Just another poll with questions and subsequent answers supporting
the wishes of the Pollsters!

By: Radix on 11/16/11 at 8:11

pswindle, teachers do deserve better pay. But if the liberals who are leading the charge to become the next Greece have their way, there won't be money to pay them. Time to elect someone new in the White House, get this economy turned around, and give our teachers the pay they deserve. Unions are only interested in themselves and take money from workers to the tune of 60 Billion a year. Maybe one day pswindle will wake up and realize that liberal policies may sound good, but they have many unintended consequences (and victims).

By: DREIFMA on 11/16/11 at 10:52

What about the private school instructors that labor away 10% or more less than public school instructors. Seems like a real inequality there. Maybe not, the teachers union cant control them, so they dont count.

By: JohnGalt on 11/16/11 at 12:21

In return for lower pay, DREIFMA, private school teachers don't have to wear flak vests or fear being assaulted in school.

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