Over the next couple of weeks, youngsters across the land will strap on their SpongeBob backpacks and lace up their new Converses. They’ll board school buses, sharpen their pencils (and turn on their iPads), and settle in their classroom chairs, eager-eyed and ready to learn. But for a lot of teachers in a lot of states, the 2011-12 academic year won’t begin with the same cheerful anticipation. More and more educators, we’re hearing, are dragging to school with grimaces rather than grins on their visages. September looks like worn-out June. They feel the burden of societal disrespect, of distrust, of being blamed by the public for all that ails American education.
They’re wrong—fortunately. The new Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup survey makes clear that most adults value their children’s teachers. Seventy-one percent say they “have trust and confidence in the men and women who are teaching children in the public schools” and 67 percent say they would like to have one of their own children become a public-school teacher.
That’s tons more positive than the public’s view of schools in general: Just 17 percent give A or B grades to them (though Americans continue to give high marks to their own children’s schools—and this figure, say the pollsters, is rising).