Despite the nearly two-year-long war between the state’s largest teacher’s union and the governor – a war that at times seemed to count teachers among the collateral damage – educators remain highly respected by the public, according to a new poll from Kean University.
According to the poll, 83 percent of New Jersey residents said they would be happy or somewhat happy if their child, relative or friend became a teacher.
Seventy percent of those polled said they are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their local public schools and the same number said they are satisfied with the quality of instruction at their local school or district.
But while respondents are happy with their schools, local districts take a back seat to taxes as nearly two-thirds of respondents said they would favor merging their school district with another nearby if it would save tax dollars.
Merit pay for teachers also enjoys strong support among New Jersey residents as 75 percent said they favor pay increases based on performance as opposed to negotiated contracts.
Residents had very mixed views on the amount of money the state spends on education as 39 percent said that New Jersey spends too little money on K-12 public education. Twenty-seven percent said that the state spends too much, and another 27 percent said that it spends the right amount.
Leila Sadeghi, an assistant professor with the Department of Educational Leadership at Kean University and a fellow at the University’s Center for History, Politics and Policy, said that public satisfaction with local schools and teachers reflects the state’s overall success in educating its children.
“As educators we know that there is always room for improvement in our teaching, but overall our schools are producing students who are highly capable, competent, and ready to enter college and, ultimately, the work force,” she said.
Kean University surveyed 1,000 likley voters on Aug. 29-30, 2011.