Teachers No Longer Settling for Backseat Role in Policymaking

December 19, 2018 • Catherine Rubiera

Teachers No Longer Settling for Backseat Role in Policymaking

2018 sparked a new era for teachers speaking out on pay issues and working conditions.

Teacher strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona helped start conversations about various challenges facing educators across the country, from pay to working environments and benefits. Educators for Excellence, with the help of Gotham Research Group (an independent research firm) conducted a survey titled, “Voices from the Classroom: A Survey of America’s Educators” that polled 1,000 full-time teachers on the issues below.

Economic security

To balance out the pay gap in teacher salaries, the top-three economic factors teachers feel are most attractive (when asked to select two) were:

  • Financial incentives for working in hard-to-staff schools (48 percent)
  • Financial incentives for serving in hard-to-staff subject areas (46 percent)
  • Defined contribution plans for retirement (36 percent)

For purpose of the survey, examples of financial incentives examples included sign-on bonuses, higher starting salaries, and loan forgiveness.


It’s not surprising 75 percent of teachers surveyed selected higher salary as incentive to continue teaching, however, that’s not the only motivation. Of the teachers responding, less standardized testing (34 percent), more supportive administrators (21 percent), and more autonomy in the classroom (17 percent) were other motivators to stay in the profession.

Teacher strikes

When presented with a list of reasons a teacher would strike, 60 percent of respondents selected “very likely” if pay was cut. Topping the chart were:

  • Reduction in retirement benefits or pension (49 percent)
  • Reduction in benefits, not retirement (44 percent)
  • No pay raise (34 percent)

Heard beyond the classroom

Teachers want a seat at the table and they want to be heard. They’re the ones implementing programs, working with the students, and witnessing firsthand the outcomes of school board decisions. They know what works and what doesn’t. Of the teachers who responded, 96 percent said they wish there were more opportunities as a teacher to influence education policy that impacts their profession and students.

These are just few of the topics covered in the survey. To read the whole report, visit the Educators for Excellence website.

Catherine Rubiera is a data analyst for TASB HR Services. Email her at catherine.rubiera@tasb.org.

Tagged: "Pay increases", Retention