Poll: Americans Don’t Want Public School Teachers Discussing Politics

A majority of Americans believe it is “not appropriate” for public school teachers to discuss politics in the classroom, according to a Grinnell College National Poll.

Of 1,004 U.S. adults surveyed by Selzer & Co., 57% said it’s inappropriate for public school teachers to speak about politics in their classrooms. While 41% believed political discussion in classrooms was not “appropriate.”

Out of seven groups of people that poll respondents were asked about, public school teachers were the only group that they said should not discuss politics. By a large majority, Americans say it is appropriate for lawful protesters, members of Congress, public school students, professional athletes, college professors, and clergies to talk about politics.

According to the poll report:

“Those opposing the teachers’ ability to speak about politics within the classroom include greater than average proportions of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (68%), suburban women (65%), those with incomes $100K or above (63%), and Catholics (64%).”

J. Ann Selzer, president of the polling firm Selzer & Co., said, “views of what is happening in public schools is the one place where suburban women align with Republicans.” She argued that the issues occurring in public schools are the “Republican wish” to re-take the suburbs in swing states.

According to the survey report, 57% of Americans believed that librarians “should play a big role in deciding about library materials,” 55% said students should, and 53% felt that the student’ families should. Yet, 44% said a locally elected school board should play a “big part,” and 42% believed it should play a “small part.”

“We find that Americans want decisions about materials in school libraries to be made locally by school librarians, families, school boards, and students themselves,” said Peter Hanson, director of the Grinnell College National Poll and associate professor of political science.

“There is very little appetite among our respondents for state officials playing a big part in decisions about school libraries,” he added.

Regarding parental notification about a student’ “changes in gender identity,” 43% of Americans said it is a “very important” issue, while 23% say it is “somewhat important,” and 31% say it is “not important.”

The survey found that 71% of Republicans say it is “very important” to inform parents, compared to 37% of independents and 25% of Democrats. It also found that 53% of respondents opposed legislation that would prohibit “gender-affirming care” for minors with the approval of their parents and doctors.