Press Release

Poll shows Illinoisans believe schools are performing poorly, teachers are underpaid, and fixing education, with input from educators, should be a top priority.

CHICAGO — The Illinois Education Association (IEA) today released the State of Education report, a first of its kind, bipartisan poll asking Illinoisans about all aspects of public schools. The results show most of those polled give Illinois schools (not teachers) a poor grade, think the state should be spending more money on students and believe teachers are undervalued, underpaid and should have a voice in what happens in schools.

“The State of Education report tells us what Illinoisans believe our students deserve when it comes to public education,” IEA President Kathi Griffin said. “The people have spoken, and I hope our lawmakers are listening. We are in the middle of a teacher shortage, and this poll shows us exactly why. We need to improve, enhance and address the inadequacies of our schools now so we can continue to ensure that every student has access to a high-quality, equitable public education.”

The data show that on the whole, Illinoisans believe fixing our schools should be a top priority, although there was no clear consensus on how to fix them. However, we do know Illinoisans overwhelmingly believe teachers’ and parents’ perspective are the most important when it comes to determining how schools are run.

“We know everything that happens inside a classroom is governed by decisions made outside of it,” Griffin said. “From the school board to the Statehouse to Congress and the White House, elected officials are determining what our students are learning, how they’re learning it and what resources are available. We need to start listening to those who are on the front lines with our students. Our parents, our teachers and our support staff should have a louder voice when it comes to decisions that impact our children’s futures.”

When asked if funding for schools should increase, 71 percent of those surveyed said yes. Those polled were then told student spending in Illinois is $13,000 per student per year, and nearly two thirds of those surveyed still thought that funding should increase. When it comes to teachers’ pay, those polled were six times more likely to believe teachers were underpaid versus paid too much or just right. A whopping 75 percent of those surveyed believe teachers should keep their full pension.

“We need career sustainability for our teachers — proper salary to start and one that fairly compensates our teachers throughout the life of their careers. Our students deserve the best and brightest facilitating instruction in our classrooms, and we need to do a better job of attracting and retaining high-quality teacher candidates,” Griffin said. “We’re in the midst of a teacher shortage, and this poll proves that Illinoisans understand that pay and benefits are important to address this crisis.”

The poll, conducted by Normington Petts and We Ask America, surveyed 1,000 Illinoisans between March 14 and March 27. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent with 95 percent confidence.

“These data points are unique because, as far as we can tell, no one has done this before in Illinois,” Jill Normington of Normington Petts said. “It makes sense, as well, to ask the people that public education serves what they expect from their schools.”

“By creating a bipartisan process, the IEA has produced an unbiased look at views around public education in Illinois and we were proud to be a part of it,” Mike Zolnierowicz of We Ask America said.

To request the full poll and crosstabs email bridget.shanahan@ieanea.org. We will be live streaming this event on our Facebook page. For more information, please go to ieastateofeducation.org.

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The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.