50 Years of American Voices


PDK International

The 50th annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools

“Even as most Americans continue to say they have high trust and confidence in teachers, a majority also say they don’t want their own children to become teachers, most often citing poor pay and benefits as the primary reason for their reluctance.

“Among key findings in this report are the remarkable support for improving teacher salaries — and record-high compunctions about entering the profession, in part given poor pay. Two-thirds of Americans say teacher pay in their community is too low; just 6% say it’s too high. An overwhelming 73% say they would support teachers in their community if they went on strike for higher salaries, including about 6 in 10 Republicans.

“As things stand, 54% of Americans say they would not want their child to become a public school teacher, a majority for the first time in a question initially asked in 1969. Poor pay and benefits are at the top of the list of reasons why, cited by 3 in 10 of those who’d rather not see their child go into teaching. In a related result, funding remains the most commonly cited problem facing the public schools, a result that’s been consistent since the early 2000s."

What was happening in American education in 2018?

Feb. 14, 2018: A former student opens fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., killing 17 students and staff members. This shooting sets off a new nationwide discussion about school security with Stoneman Douglas students taking the lead.

2018 Free Editorial Use Only Getty Images 960334470

An expelled student killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (Getty Images)

March 6, 2018: After a nine-day strike, West Virginia teachers struck a deal with the state legislature for a 5% pay raise.The state also agreed to look into rising health insurance premiums, and freeze them temporarily.

May 18, 2018: Eight students and two teachers are killed and 10 others injured in a shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas.

June 27, 2018: In Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31, the U.S. Supreme Court decides public service employees no longer must pay dues or agency fees but may still receive union-negotiated benefits.

Aug. 22, 2018: Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos considers allowing school districts to divert federal money from educational programs to buying guns for teachers, igniting a firestorm of responses from educators and others.

Share “2018”:


We welcome your conversation about the poll results and the other information we’ve assembled here. What did we forget? What do you remember about this year? How do you think the events of this year influenced the responses to our questions?