For its new publication, Education Sector asked 1,010 public school teachers of grades K–12 about challenges in their profession; their feelings on specific reforms aimed at improving teacher quality, such as differential pay proposals; and their general thoughts on teachers’ unions and the role unions can play in the improvement of teacher quality. Waiting to Be Won Over: Teachers Speak on the Profession, Unions, and Reform, compares the answers of new teachers (those who have been teaching for fewer than five years) to those of veteran teachers (those who have been teaching for at least twenty years).
Among the findings, about three quarters of teachers surveyed said that there were too many burned-out veteran teachers still teaching “because they do not want to walk away from the benefits and service time they have accrued.” Furthermore, 55 percent said that it was difficult to remove “clearly ineffective teachers” in general, citing the process as “time consuming.” Many indicated that their evaluations provided little useful feedback and expressed a desire for stronger evaluations, especially for probationary teachers.
Teachers surveyed considered unions as “vital to their profession,” with 8 percent more considering them essential than did the teachers surveyed in 2003. They wanted their unions to take more active roles in the areas of “improving teacher evaluation, supporting and mentoring teachers, guiding ineffective teachers out of the profession, and negotiating new/differentiated roles/responsibilities for teachers.”
Eighty percent of teachers felt that their colleagues who taught in low-performing schools deserved financial incentives but were largely resistant to using test scores as a basis for these incentives (just 34 percent favored the idea). Teachers were divided on the idea of “measuring teacher effectiveness based on student growth,” with 49 percent in favor of it and 48 percent opposed.