ON-Lion Letter
Released in August, the fourth annual survey conducted by Education Next and Harvard University's Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG) on a wide range of education issues reveals that the broader public and teachers are markedly divided in their support for merit pay, teacher tenure, and Race to the Top (RttT).  The poll provides strong evidence from a nationally representative sample that most Americans support merit pay for teachers, while teachers oppose the policy by a large margin; there is strong opposition among the public to teacher tenure, while teachers favor it; and teachers are significantly more opposed to the federal RttT program than the broader public.

Education Next is published by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University with support from Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which also supports PEPG projects.  The survey questions and responses, along with an essay by survey authors William G. Howell, Paul E. Peterson, and Martin R. West interpreting the results, are available online, as is a video of Peterson and West discussing it.

Support for "basing a teacher's salary, in part, on his or her students' academic progress on state tests" jumped five percentage points in one year, increasing from 44% in 2007 to 49% in 2010, while opposition declined from 32% to 25%.  However, only 24% of teachers supported the idea, while 63% expressed opposition.

The poll revealed that those who oppose teacher tenure outnumber those who support it by a margin of almost 2:1.  Forty-seven percent oppose the idea, while 25% favor it.  Among teachers, 48% favored tenure.

Thirty-two percent of Americans think RttT is necessary to improve education, but 22% believe it is an unwarranted intrusion into state and local government.  However, 46% of those polled expressed no opinion.  Teachers oppose RttT by a 2:1 margin, with only 22% saying they like the program, and 46% against it.

The poll also revealed a surge in support for virtual schooling.  Between 2009 and 2010, the percentage in favor of allowing high-school students to take a course on the Internet increased from 42% to 52%, while opposition fell from 29% to 23%.

Support for charter schools remained essentially unchanged between 2008 and 2010 -- rising from 42% to 44%, while opposition increased from just 16% to 19%.  However, support for charter schools in minority communities rose steeply -- from 42% to 64% among African-Americans and from 37% to 47% among Hispanics.  Among teachers, charter support fell from 47% to 39%.
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