Survey: Most Americans Would Support Teachers Going On Strike For School Safety

Around the country, pockets of teachers have been protesting what they see as unsafe working conditions.

More than half of Americans would support educators going on strike to protest unsafe working conditions at schools, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds. The survey comes as teachers unions around the country have started taking action to protest school reopening plans in their districts.

According to the survey, 55% of Americans would either strongly or somewhat support teachers going on strike because they feel school conditions are unsafe. Only 31% of Americans would oppose such actions, and 14% said they’re unsure.

In July, the American Federation of Teachers, one of the nation’s major national teachers unions, announced it would back such actions as a last resort and on a case-by-case basis.

“If authorities don’t protect the safety and health of those we represent and those we serve, as our executive council voted last week, nothing is off the table,” Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT, said during the union’s annual convention. The union represents around 1.7 million members.

Members of the teachers union, parents and students participate in a march through Brooklyn, New York, on Sept. 1 to demand a safer teaching environment for themselves and students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of the teachers union, parents and students participate in a march through Brooklyn, New York, on Sept. 1 to demand a safer teaching environment for themselves and students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Spencer Platt via Getty Images

Since that time, Arizona teachers held a sickout over concerns about the safety of their classrooms and Detroit teachers voted to allow union leadership to call a strike if their safety demands went unmet. In New York City, the largest school district in the country, teachers discussed voting to authorize a strike before reaching a deal with City Hall. While these teachers were threatening to abandon their classrooms if key safety conditions went unmet, Mayor Bill de Blasio made clear his displeasure. “Unless folks have a medical accommodation, their job is to come in and serve our kids,” he said at the time.

Generally, those with and without school-age kids both indicated they would support striking teachers. A 61% majority of those with school-age kids said they would support these actions, compared to a smaller 53% of those without school-age kids. There was no difference in opposition, with those without children more likely to say they were unsure.

Instead, the issue was highly partisan. While 78% of Democrats said they would strongly or somewhat support striking teachers, only 37% of Republicans said the same. Roughly half of Republicans said they would strongly or somewhat oppose such actions.

Additionally, 56% of Republicans said they think teachers should be required to teach in-person this fall, compared to only 17% of Democrats.

Most Americans still said they think schools should only partially reopen or be closed this fall. About one-fifth of Americans say they think schools should fully reopen, a number that’s largely unchanged since a July HuffPost/YouGov survey. Another 26% currently say schools should partially reopen, with 38% saying they should remain online-only or closed.

Both Republicans and Democrats report similarly positive views of teachers, with 63% and 64%, respectively, rating their local teachers as good or excellent. Another 19% of Republicans, and one-quarter of Democrats, rate their local public school teachers as fair or poor.

About half of school districts around the country reopened fully in-person this year, per research from the Center on Reinventing Public Education. However, rural and affluent districts were more likely to open.

Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Sept. 1-3 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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