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46% View Unionized Teachers As a Bad Thing, 37% Disagree

Americans continue to believe strongly that being a teacher is an essential job, but a plurality thinks it’s a bad thing that most teachers are unionized.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 68% of American Adults view being a teacher as one of the most important jobs in our country today, down five points from May of last year but up slightly from when we first asked the question in May 2008. Twenty-one percent (21%) say it’s not one of the most important jobs, and 12% aren’t sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Thirty-seven percent (37%) say, in terms of its impact on the nation, it’s a good thing that most teachers belong to public employee unions. Forty-six percent (46%) disagree and say it’s a bad thing that most teachers are unionized. Seventeen percent (17%) are not sure.

In late April 2010 when we offered “neither” as another option, 38% of adults said it’s good that most teachers belong to a public employee union, but 34% said it’s a bad thing. Thirteen percent (13%) viewed it as neither, and 14% were undecided.

Among adults who currently have children in grades K through 12, however, a majority (54%) now views unionized teachers as bad for the country.

A plurality (45%) also believes public school teachers are paid too little, but that’s trending down from 51% last August [LINK to 44% Say Teachers Should Not Be Paid For Summer Vacation] and 57% in May 2008. Eighteen percent (18%) now say teachers are paid too much, while 32% think their level of pay is about right.

In the current political dispute in Wisconsin, 47% of voters nationwide agree with the Republican governor who wants to limit the union rights of some public employees, while 42% support the unions for teachers and other state employees. However, 61% say members of public employee unions should contribute the same percentage to their health care and pension plans as those in the private sector pay which many unionized teachers currently do not do.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on February 23-24, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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