WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten responds to the results of this year’s PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools:
“The PDK poll confirms what we have seen in state after state this last school year: The tide is turning. In a year of great turbulence, from the tragic school shootings to the teacher walkouts due to the effects of a decade of disinvestment, the American people overwhelmingly reject the approach Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has promoted to defund, destabilize and destroy public schools and further undermine teachers. Even with concerns about safety, parents want to send their kids to public schools. Americans don’t want to arm their teachers with guns, they want to arm them with resources and higher salaries, and they support teachers’ efforts to walk out for their schools and their students. And while they want their kids to have the option of affordable college, they understand the burden placed on teachers—so much so that they don’t want their own children to be teachers.
“This is a poll that every policymaker must see. The disinvestment, defunding and destabilizing strategy of the right-wing politicians, governors and billionaires like the Koch brothers and Betsy DeVos is completely dissonant from the attitudes of our communities. The support for strengthening, not discarding, public education and for respecting, not vilifying, teachers is at an all-time high. This is a clarion call for change.
“We thank PDK for its 50 years of polling attitudes on education. And we call on everyone running for office this year to heed its results by working for investment, not austerity, in public schools; for resources in mental health supports for kids; for higher pay, respect and latitude for educators so we can work to make every school a school parents want to send their kids to, teachers want to teach at and where students have joy in learning.”