Public-school teachers feel disenfranchised from educational decision-making and unsupported by most parents, according to a report released last month by the Public Agenda survey group. Given the choice between higher pay and a better work environment, most teachers would opt to work in a school with better student behavior and parental support. More than eight out of 10 teachers say they face serious problems because parents fail to discipline children or hold them accountable for schoolwork.
Teachers say they feel "out of the loop" when it comes to district decision-making. "Teachers are cognizant of the fact that there isn't money for salary increases, so their attention shifts to something else," said Paul Bingle, a superintendent in Kansas. "Right now it's basically, 'I want more input on what happens on a daily basis in education in general.'"
Principals and superintendents echo teachers' opinions in the report. About two-thirds say they feel like their hands are tied or they must work around the system to get things done.
That may explain why the idea of linking teachers' and principals' pay with student achievement has not caught on with educators. Seventy-six percent of teachers say incentive pay is a bad idea, compared to only 37 percent of parents and 30 percent of employers, according to the Public Agenda report.