August 25, 2010
Cynthia Leonor Garza
Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten on Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward Public Schools
AFT President Weingarten’s commentary on teachers and teacher quality is included in the 42nd annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, which will be released on Wednesday. This year’s survey found the public believes that improving the quality of teachers should be the top national education priority, that low-performing schools should be given comprehensive external support rather than being closed, and that teachers are doing a good job.
WASHINGTON—Parents, teachers and communities all want the same thing: strong neighborhood schools for all our children. We want good teaching in all our classrooms. And while teachers are more than willing to shoulder a heavy load to make this a reality, they cannot do it alone.
Our children and teachers need the public—everyone, from government and school district officials to parents—to act on the vision of what it means to have a world-class public education.
Parents and the public truly understand that teaching is an incredibly complex craft that is developed and improved upon over time. The fact that the public thinks teacher evaluations should be used not as a way to cast blame, but as a way to support good teaching, should serve as a lesson for school district administrators and policymakers across the country. The American Federation of Teachers has taken a leading role in creating new and more thoughtful teacher evaluations across the country. If school districts are serious about helping teachers get better, overhauling teacher evaluations must become a priority.
Finally, it is heartening to know that Americans value the hard work our educators do every day in classrooms nationwide. They believe teachers are doing a good job, and many would be proud to have their children go into this vital profession.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.