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Another NCLB "Myth" Dispelled by Our Friends at Business Roundtable

Ohanian Comment: It seems entirely fitting that the Business Roundtable would call on myth to back up their claims about NCLB.

Behind: Dispelling the Myths," a new e-mail information service from the Business Roundtable. The Roundtable supports NCLB because it will help every child to succeed in college, the workplace, and in life. NCLB isn't perfect, but misperceptions and inaccuracies are distorting the facts about it. These e-mails separate the myths from the reality. In each one, we'll call upon a character from ancient mythology to help deliver our message.

Here are previous myths they dispelled with a flick of the wallet:

Myth #1: NCLB is a right-wing plot to undermine public education.
[May 15, 2004]

Myth #2: No Child Left Behind is a "one-size-fits-all" education reform.
[May 26, 2004]

Myth #3: NCLB is unwarranted federal intrusion into state and local control of schools.
[June 2, 2004]

Myth #4: NCLB is an unfunded mandate.
[June 10, 2004]

And today: This is the fifth in Business Roundtable's "Dispelling the Myths" series that sets the record straight on No Child Left Behind. NCLB isn't perfect, but misperceptions and inaccuracies are distorting the facts about it. These e-mails separate the myths from the reality.

MEET ThOTH, the "great measurer" in Egyptian mythology. Today Thoth helps us measure how much American teachers like their jobs, and dispels the myth about teacher job dissatisfaction.

Myth #5: NCLB has made public school teachers more dissatisfied with their jobs.

REALITY: A MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, conducted by Harris Interactive between May-September 2003, found that teachers' job satisfaction is now higher than it was before NCLB was passed. In the survey, conducted among 1,017 public school teachers, 57 percent reported that they were "very satisfied" with "teaching as a career." That represented a 5-point jump over the 52 percent who expressed job satisfaction in 2001--the year before NCLB was passed. And it was the highest level of satisfaction ever recorded in the 20-year history of the poll. MetLife Foundation President Sibyl Jacobson said that growing job satisfaction "has implications for efforts to retain qualified teachers and recruit new teachers."

Here's the information Harris provides about their poll:

The Harris Poll® #19, March 12, 2004

Teachers’ Job Satisfaction Rises to Highest Level in 20 Years

by Humphrey Taylor

Harris Interactive has measured the satisfaction of public teachers nine times over the last twenty years. In our most recent survey the proportion of public school teachers who reported that they were "very satisfied" with "teaching as a career" rose to 57%, the highest level we have ever recorded.

This high level of satisfaction compares with low points of 40% in 1984 and 1987, and the lowest point of 33% in 1986. In our two most recent surveys, we had found 54% (in 1995) and 52% (in 2001) who were very satisfied with their choice of career.

These are the results of the latest of the annual MetLife Surveys of the American Teacher, which Harris Interactive® has conducted since 1984. This survey was conducted among 1,017 public school teachers between May 14 and September 22, 2003.

Comparing Job Satisfaction with Prestige

It is interesting to compare the trend on job satisfaction with another trend, which shows the percentage of adults who regard teachers as having "very great prestige." On the two occasions we asked this question before the 1990s, we found that only 29% (in 1977) and 28% (in 1982) of the public thought that teachers had very great prestige. By 1992 this had risen thirteen points to 41%, and by 1998 it had risen to 53%, where it remained, more or less, until 2002, when it dropped slightly to 47%. Last year it stood at 49%.

Over the long haul, there has been a clear relationship between job satisfaction and prestige, as they both rose from lower levels in, and before, the 1980s to higher levels in the 1990s. However, this relationship is not very strong. Between 2001 and 2003, teachers’ job satisfaction rose five points while their prestige, in the eyes of the public, slipped five points.

Commenting on these findings, Sibyl Jacobson, the president of MetLife Foundation, noted, "We are pleased to see that teachers are increasingly satisfied with their jobs, and that the public has raised its esteem of the profession. It is no surprise that there is a connection between these two issues. This finding has implications for efforts to retain qualified teachers and recruit new teachers to the profession. Teachers need to be heard and respected in order to be effective in the classroom."

Humphrey Taylor is the chairman of The Harris Poll®, Harris Interactive.


Harris Interactive conducted the survey between May 14 and September 22, 2003 with nationally representative samples of 800 public school principals of grades K-12, 1,017 public school teachers of grades K-12, 1,107 parents of public school students in grades K-12, and 2,901 public school students in grades 3-12. Teachers and principals were interviewed online or by telephone. Parent and child interviews were conducted online. Data were weighted to reflect the total U.S. populations of principals, teachers, parents and students, respectively, and margin of error varies based on sample size and method used.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

— Business Roundtable





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