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Great news for Maine Educators

Public holds teachers in high esteem

The public believes in America’s public school teachers according to 43rd Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll with 70% saying they have trust and confidence in them and 69% assigning them a letter grade of an A or B.

"We are pleased and encouraged that a majority of Americans continue to have a positive impression of teachers," commented NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. "The public sees teaching as a desirable profession and understands many of the challenges classroom teachers currently face in our public schools.

"In terms of the best ways to transform public education, there is strong support for teachers—recruiting, training, and retaining great teachers. Americans polled, in significant numbers, said the lack of financial support is the biggest problem facing public schools."

Sixty-seven percent of those polled said they would like to have a child of theirs choose a public school teaching career, and 76% believe we should be actively recruiting our high-achieving high school students to consider teaching as a career.

While the public feels positively about teachers in their communities, it has a less favorable opinion of others involved in education, particularly governors and teacher unions. Despite that, slightly more than half side with teacher unions in their disputes with governors over collective bargaining.

Those polled believe funding is the biggest problem facing schools and they are conflicted over publicizing student test scores. Most support the use of multiple factors in determining teacher salaries and layoffs, citing advanced degrees, experience and principal’s evaluations. Student test scores were rated as least important.

The 2011 poll also found increased support for President’s Obama’s national education efforts (+ 7%) with 41% giving him an A or B and 70% approving of his support for charter schools – the highest approval rating for the concept in a decade.

Americans hold favorable views of school choice programs and unfavorable views of voucher programs that allow parents to use public money to attend a private, religious of for-profit school.


Maine students 5th in nation on ACT

Maine students performed well on the ACT, the alternative college placement exam to the SAT, posting scores that rated highly in the nation. Tests results for 2011 graduates recorded an average composite score of 23.3 out of a possible 36. Only Massachusetts (24.2), Connecticut (23.9), New Hampshire (23.7) and New York (23.4) had higher scores.

"This is another positive proof that our college-bound students can compete effectively with the top students across the nation," observes MEA President Chris Galgay. "Maine schools and educators should be proud of the work they did in preparing these young people to compete in the 21st Century.

Since only 9% of Maine’s high school seniors took the exam, critics of public education downplayed the results saying the results were skewed by the small numbers. Of course these same critics disregard the impact of the participation rate when virtually all (92%) of Maine seniors take the SAT exams and finish behind those states where fewer, predominately college-bound students take the exam.

The ACT and SAT test students on mathematics, reading, and writing. ACT also covers science and social studies while the SAT places greater emphasis on reasoning skills. The ACT is widely used in the Midwest and South while the SAT is preeminent in the Northeast.


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