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Teachers Don’t Hate America! (and Then There’s the Bad News)

Friday, October 1st, 2010

By Jenna Schuette

Good news rarely gets its fair play. But here’s a worthwhile gospel according to a new study released today by AEI: teachers don’t hate America!

Although public school teachers are often accused of being left-wing and anti-American, this new survey of over 1,000 high school social studies teachers says otherwise. An impressive 83 percent of teachers report seeing America as a “unique country that stands for something special in the world” (see graph below). This finding parallels a study of the general public which found that 84 percent of respondents see America in the same light.

So what does this mean for our high school students? Well, it likely means they aren’t being taught to view America as a fundamentally flawed country. Instead, 82 percent of their teachers find it important to teach students to “respect and appreciate their country but know its shortcomings.” (Click on chart to enlarge.)

For those waiting for the bad news, it’s not clear that high schoolers are actually gleaning anything from these well-intentioned teachers. Regarding key concepts of citizenship, no more than 24 percent of public school teachers express great confidence that most of the students from their high school have learned these concepts before they graduate. So while our students aren’t learning to disavow America, they may not be learning how to participate, either.

For more on the political breakdown regarding teachers’ views on citizenship, check out my colleague Cheryl Miller’s upcoming blog post.

Jenna M. Schuette is a Jacobs Associate in education policy at AEI.