Teachers vs the Public? Mapping the Fault Lines in the Politics of American Education
Sponsored by the Education Policy Initiative (EPI) at the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP).
EPI is a program of coordinated activities designed to bring the latest academic knowledge to issues of education policy. Generous support provided by Charles H. and Susan Gessner.
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The EdNext-PEPG Survey, conducted annually since 2007, provides unparalleled evidence on the public's understanding of and support for a range of prominent education policy proposals. Americans' evaluations of the nation's public schools are at an all-time low, but they continue to assign high ratings to the schools in their local community. Citizens tend to have more accurate information about school performance than about spending levels, and providing them with accurate information about current spending reduces their support for spending increases. Pluralities of the public support a range of current reform proposals related to teacher tenure and compensation, school choice and test-based accountability, but many of these ideas have less support among public school teachers. The overall cleavage between teachers and nonteachers is larger than that between other relevant subgroups, including members of the Democratic and Republican parties.
Martin R. West is an assistant professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, deputy director of Harvard's Program on Education Policy and Governance, and an executive editor of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research on education policy. He is also a research affiliate of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard's Kennedy School and of the CESifo Research Network. Trained as a political scientist, West studies the politics of K-12 education policy in the United States and institutional impacts on student achievement and non-cognitive skills. His current projects include a federally funded randomized evaluation of the use of interim assessment data to improve instruction, studies of the effects of grade configuration and test-based retention policies on student achievement in Florida, and an ongoing national survey of public opinion on American education. His most recent book (co-edited with Joshua Dunn), From Schoolhouse to Courthouse: The Judiciary's Role in American Education (Brookings, 2009), examines the increase in judicial involvement in education policymaking over the past 50 years. He has also published widely in academic journals and popular outlets including Education Next, Education Week, Vox, and the Wall Street Journal. Before joining the Harvard faculty, West taught at Brown University and was a research fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. He received his M.Phil. in Economic and Social History from Oxford University in 2000 and his Ph.D. in Government and Social Policy from Harvard in 2006.