If V.P. Joe Biden is elected, there will be a chance for public education to survive and teachers to get the support they need to serve America’s children. Reelect President Trump, and chances are public schools may end. Teachers who have been prepared to teach may leave the field for good.
Gallup Polls show how American’s attitudes have changed and remained the same when it comes to public schools over the years. Saving education in America depends on creating a professional teaching workforce.
The pandemic has made it clear that the country relies on its teachers to help students learn. Even before Covid-19 parents from both parties realized this. Teachers have risen to the occasion during the pandemic with little help from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos or President Trump.
President Trump and his followers are hostile towards public schooling, teachers, and the teacher’s union. I cannot remember President Trump ever visiting a public school. He has been to a private religious school.
They call public schools “government schools,” but the public owns their schools, or they should. A circle of the president’s supporters embraces President Trump’s and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s choice plan focused on a market approach to schooling.
It hasn’t always been this way, and many still want excellent public schooling and especially excellent teachers for all America’s children.
Revisit the Gallup Polls of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools of the U.S. for 15 years, 1969 through 1983. This is what is written:
Most Americans are deeply committed to the belief that education is the most important service rendered by government. They continue to feel, according to the poll, that public education contributes more to national strength than either industrial might or military power. They consider education the key to personal success. Thus the heavy critical attention being paid to education today may be a blessing in disguise. Education leaders, as represented by the membership of Phi Delta Kappa, can use the basic positive feelings of the American public about the importance of education as an anchor for reform that will produce better education for all (5).
…in 1969 about 75% of parents interviewed said that they would like to see one of their children teach in a public school. In 1983 only 45% said that they would like one of their children to be a public school teacher (p. 3).
This later changed again.
…the prime factor was the surplus of teachers in the Seventies and early Eighties. Parents didn’t want their children to prepare for nonexistent jobs. Other significant factors included the well-publicized economic disadvantages of teaching, the growing prevalence of teacher burnout, and increasingly attractive opportunities for women in other fields (p. 3).
In the more recent September 2020 PDK (Phi Delta Kappan) Public School Priorities in a Political Year, the results reflect the attitudes of public schooling pre-pandemic and pre the Black Lives Matter protests.
Both political parties are concerned about getting qualified teachers to work with students. Creating a great, new teaching workforce is what this country needs at this time!
Joshua P. Starr, Ed.D. Chief executive officer of PDK International wrote:
…85% of respondents said they want the federal government to focus on attracting and retaining quality teachers. In and of itself, this shouldn’t be a surprise. (Who doesn’t want kids to be taught by great teachers?) Given that education is largely a local and state issue, though, the desire for federal involvement is noteworthy. We already know from previous data that the nation may soon face a teacher shortage; hence, we may have a real crisis on our hands if, as is likely, a large number of experienced teachers opt to not return to the classroom (due to concerns about their health or dissatisfaction with remote learning). Perhaps, then, respondents’ desire for the federal government to do something about teacher shortages should serve as a wake-up call for those in Washington who have threatened to reduce financial support on the basis of local decisions about opening up. Americans want them to play a positive role, not a destructive one (K3).
V.P. Biden supports funding better school facilities, more social workers, school psychologists, and Title I programs. His wife has studied education and is a teacher, and Biden supports the unions. He has a plan to create safe schools.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has not been about lifting teachers or creating a qualified professional teaching staff.
If we lose public education in America, we will also lose a professional teaching workforce. The next president must improve public schools, not end them, and supported, well-prepared teachers are crucial to making those schools work.
What’s clear is that parents still believe in great teachers. Hopefully, a Biden win will reflect the nation’s support of public schools and a great teaching profession to serve all children.