Americans’ Views of How the News Media Covers Teachers

May 3, 2022

Home Reports & Resources Americans’ Views of How the News Media Covers Teachers

Executive Summary

This report focuses on how Americans and K–12 public school teachers in particular
view news media coverage of teachers and how they view the teaching profession
overall. Findings from this nationally representative survey of American adults and of
K–12 public teachers, fielded in November 2020, include the following:

1. While nearly all Americans believe that teachers are skilled professionals who
deserve respect, with many seeing them as heroes, few teachers think their
communities value them a great deal.

2. Only about half of Americans think that teachers should be paid as much as
doctors or lawyers, and about half think that teachers who do not like their jobs
should quit rather than complain.

3. Americans believe that the news media impacts teachers and teaching,
including how much communities value teachers. Most Americans, including
most teachers, want the news media to cover teachers more positively.

4. Americans are especially interested in reading news stories about curriculum
and pedagogy, but most also believe it is very important for the media to report
on accusations of illegal activity by teachers. Teachers, however, are most
interested in reading about whether teachers have sufficient supplies and how
issues like student poverty affect teaching and learning.

These survey results appear in the Public Agenda reports “Essential Educators: Teacher
and Parent Views on COVID-19,” and “Americans’ Views of How the News Media Covers
Teachers,” which summarize findings from a nationally representative survey of 3,130 adult
Americans 18 years and older, excluding private school teachers. The survey was fielded
November 11 – December 1, 2020 by NORC at the University of Chicago.

The sample includes 2,684 respondents who were randomly sampled from NORC’s probabilitybased
AmeriSpeak panel, of whom 256 were K-12 public school teachers, including charter
school teachers. Interviews were conducted online and over the phone, with 2548 completing
via the web and 136 completing via telephone. Interviews were conducted in English and
Spanish, depending on respondent preference. Another 446 K-12 public school teachers,
including charter school teachers, were sampled from Lucid, a non-probability opt-in panel. The
Lucid sample included 295 Black and Latino teachers. Interviews were conducted in English
and Spanish, depending on respondent preference, online only.

Respondents completed the survey in English or Spanish. The general public sample was
demographically weighted to the 2020 Current Population Survey and the teacher sample was
weighted to the 2017-18 National Teacher and Principal Survey.

For questions about this research, please email research@publicagenda.org.