Phi Delta Kappa International recently completed a poll with the Gallup organization trying to find out that information. There were some consistencies in the responses and some very interesting differences depending on demographic grouping.
All demographics- public school parents, non-public school parents, Democrats, Republicans, African-Americans, Hispanics and whites all agreed teachers should be paid more. Democrats more than Republicans, but all groups agree. On the question of tenure there was lots more diversity. All demographic groups, other than African-Americans, are opposed to tenure for teachers. It is projected that African-Americans have a long history of being teachers and saw those jobs be lost when schools integrated. Most respondents think it is too hard to fire a teacher; but they still support some sort of due process rather than allowing a school system to release a teacher at will.
Results of this poll were a lot like surveys on members of Congress. Generally voters do not trust members of Congress, but think the member who represents them is just fine. So it is with teachers. Parents trust their children’s teachers and feel communication is good. They do, however, want what they see a more professionalism from the profession. Respondents across demographics support some sort of professional test beyond the entry-level degree. Maryland already requires both a basic academic skills test and a subject specific test.
Money is always the elephant in the room. Would administrators fire higher-paid, experienced teachers because budgets would go further with entry-level professionals? Or are principals just trying to get rid of dead wood in the system? Who pays for retirement benefits? Thirty years of teaching and retirement leaves a lot of lifetime for governments to be paying retirement pensions. Money for education is finite so value decisions need to be made. And in spite of how people responded, teacher pay for a 190-day year isn’t really all that bad.