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Tuesday, Mar 23, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Normington Petts poll taken for the Illinois Education Association February 11-21 of 1,000 Illinois adults reached via phone and online. Margin of error was +/-3.1 percent

Would you say things in Illinois today are generally headed in the RIGHT DIRECTION or would you say things are off on the WRONG TRACK?

    DON’T KNOW 7%

The perception of the state is still underwater, but those are the best numbers I’ve seen in quite a long time. The Simon Poll has been showing a steady increase in the state’s “right direction” number since the 2018 election

* OK, on to the IEA’s press release

The Illinois Education Association (IEA) today released its third annual State of Education report, the only bipartisan poll asking Illinoisans about all aspects of public schools. There is a teacher shortage and the results show that Illinoisans believe COVID-19 will only make the problem worse. Also, the data show the COVID-19 pandemic has made teaching and learning more difficult, Illinoisans continue to trust educators most when it comes to all school-related matters and there is wide support for IEA’s health and safety related standards for schools during a pandemic.

“The people have spoken. They understand that COVID-19 has been difficult for students, educators and everyone else in our public-school system,” IEA President Kathi Griffin said. “In addition, they also support solutions that will make health and safety a top priority and ensure everyone in our schools is safe.”

Seventy-nine percent of Illinoisans are in favor of the following:

    • Establish clear metrics, so districts know when to switch to remote learning to keep students and staff safe;
    • Enforce guidance and requirements put forth by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education, and heed the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control;
    • Provide rapid COVID-19 testing in schools so infected students and staff can be identified before they spread the virus;
    • Ensure education employees are not forced to work while ill.

The data show that on the whole, the public is very concerned about the teacher shortage and COVID-19 exacerbating the problem.

* Some selected questions and responses

Do you think that public school teachers in your community are paid too little, too much or about right?

    Too little 51%
    Too much 12%
    About right 31%
    (Don’t know) 4%

I support the new law that sets the minimum teacher salary in Illinois at $40,000 per year

    Strongly agree 36%
    Somewhat agree 33%
    Somewhat disagree 13%
    Strongly disagree 15%
    (Don’t know) 3%


As you may know, teachers in Illinois don’t pay into and therefore do not collect Social Security when they retire. Do you think that Illinois teachers should receive their full pension, see their pensions cut some or see their pensions eliminated?

    Full pension 73%
    Cut some 16%
    Eliminated 6%
    (Don’t know) 5%

Thinking about public school teachers in Illinois over the last year or so during the pandemic, do you think that teaching during the coronavirus pandemic has been much easier, somewhat easier, somewhat harder, or much harder for teachers?

    Much easier 8%
    Somewhat easier 11%
    Somewhat harder 24%
    Much harder 55%
    (Don’t know) 2%


* Also, respondents were asked to rate these priorities from zero to ten. Here are the “high” ratings, in other words, the percent of those who chose 8-10

Having high quality public schools 76%
Cleaning up corruption in state government 76%
Lowering taxes 65%
Reforming the state pension systems 49%
Balancing the state budget 65%
Reducing crime 74%
Jobs and economic growth 77%
Reducing racial divisions 63%
Reforming health care 64%

These pension-related responses are not unique to this poll, by the way. People are far more supportive of retirees than some folks would have you think.

More results and crosstabs are here.

* Also, you may have read a Tribune article this week about The COVID States Project’s polling. But the survey’s reporting is incredibly opaque. They only tell you approval numbers for governors and leave out results for disapproval and no opinion (and won’t provide them when asked), which seems silly to me. Also, while they claim the February polling for Illinois had a margin of error of “6,” they don’t disclose how many people were surveyed. And there’s some question about its nonprobability methodology, but that method is picking up adherents these days after some success last year (including with the polling I commissioned).

With that being said

Ongoing surveys conducted by The COVID States Project, involving researchers from a four-university consortium that includes Northwestern, have monitored public attitudes surrounding the pandemic.

The group found that public approval of Pritzker’s handling of the pandemic has gone from 63.2% in the second half of April, about one month into his issuance of emergency restrictions, to 44.7% in February, the lowest of any sampling period in the survey.

That seems to be the norm

The average governor has witnessed a small drop in approval since October (dropping from 48% in October to 46% in February, part of a long term decline in governor approval since we began our survey in April, when it was 64%).

However, the project found that Democratic governors tended to see an increase in approval, which Pritzker did not.


  1. - Dotnonymous - Tuesday, Mar 23, 21 @ 1:58 pm:

    Illinois…where down is up.

  2. - City Zen - Tuesday, Mar 23, 21 @ 2:14 pm:

    Latest Rasmussen poll asked people if they felt the Coronavirus pandemic created some positive benefits in their life. 61% of all respondents couldn’t think of any positive benefits. Private and public sector workers polled similar numbers to that with one notable exception: 60% of those who work in education reported positive benefits.

  3. - Candy Dogood - Tuesday, Mar 23, 21 @ 2:19 pm:

    ===Lowering taxes 65%===

    So basically the respondents support a whole bunch of things, so long as those things are free. Seeing the disconnect between the idea that if one wants Government to deliver a quality product that those services aren’t going to be the result of reduced spending.

    Also incredibly ironic given that we literally just had a middle class tax cut on the ballot that would have given even greater latitude to allow for lower tax rates for lower income Illinoisans.

  4. - Right the wrongs - Tuesday, Mar 23, 21 @ 2:35 pm:

    You said it, Candy. People are living on another planet. Also, if parents, politicians and the general public weren’t so awful to teachers, perhaps they wouldn’t be leaving the profession in droves. Every teacher I know cites parents as the biggest hindrances to providing a quality education to their kids.

  5. - Jibba - Tuesday, Mar 23, 21 @ 2:57 pm:

    Maybe teachers have had a lot of practice looking on the bright side.

  6. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Mar 23, 21 @ 3:03 pm:

    What Candy said.

    =Also, if parents, politicians and the general public weren’t so awful to teachers, perhaps they wouldn’t be leaving the profession in droves.=

    So true. And it is true x2 for school administration. The retirements are off the charts and as hard as it is to find good teachers it is twice as hard to find quality administrators.

  7. - Maximus - Tuesday, Mar 23, 21 @ 3:03 pm:

    The wording on the teacher pension question leaves out a lot of details. If the replacement for the pension plan is a defined contribution system with 10% employee matching and full vestment within 5 years and you can borrow against it and it goes with you to other teaching positions the responses would have been very different. Of course nobody wants to just axe the pension plan and not replace it with anything.

  8. - Anon E Moose - Tuesday, Mar 23, 21 @ 3:06 pm:

    those people who think teachers are paid too much…wow

  9. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 23, 21 @ 3:12 pm:

    So, is the simplified takeaway is as the polling shows “wrong direction” numbers, in the end, teachers are still celebrated and respectfully seen as the pandemic goes into a year two phase?

    But things like these polls are snapshots to simple, and the priorities within education and governing the trend as Rich points out are now at the best seen in quite some time.

    This year, “today” till June-ish, the legislative wins that can be cobbled within a Democratic policy platform for 2022… probably why Raunerites are try to also sell their “Yes” agenda to offset possible legislative wins and centerpiece policy wins to boot.

    That’s the thing. The governor gets to sign things and now try to stay above it all as the two Dem caucuses find their votes. The governor can also run popular bills at an arm’s length governing because Dems can see the usefulness of passage.

    The educators with polling like this reinforce the goodwill, and if it translates to policy bills for teachers specifically and/or education generally, that’ll raise all boats?

    We’ll see.

  10. - Bigtwich - Tuesday, Mar 23, 21 @ 3:33 pm:

    Pensions are part of total compensation. Illinois employment was competitive with Tier 1. Not so much so with Tier 2. That works for state employment as well as teachers. State employment seems to be much less of a career path now and new teachers are not showing up.

  11. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Mar 23, 21 @ 3:43 pm:

    - Maximus - Tuesday, Mar 23, 21 @ 3:03 pm:

    Why don’t you focus group that and get back to us with the results.

  12. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Mar 23, 21 @ 4:20 pm:

    About that Rasmussen poll. His sample also includes 40 percent who ate dinner inside a restaurant last week. I’m wondering what percentage of Americans eat dinner inside a restaurant during a normal week. I mean, Soccerdad and I spend way too much money on restaurant food, yet there are often weeks when we don’t eat inside a restaurant. hmmmm….

  13. - cermak_rd - Tuesday, Mar 23, 21 @ 6:01 pm:

    eating in a restaurant? I haven’t done that for a year other than 1 catering outfit that never has anyone in it (because they cater mostly). Maybe with people getting their 2nd shot people are feeling more confident. I just got my first so it’ll be a while for me.

  14. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Mar 23, 21 @ 7:17 pm:

    === Latest Rasmussen poll asked people if they felt the Coronavirus pandemic created some positive benefits in their life. 61% of all respondents couldn’t think of any positive benefits. Private and public sector workers polled similar numbers to that with one notable exception: 60% of those who work in education reported positive benefits. ===

    What’s your point, CZ?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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