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Majority of Americans Believe it is Inappropriate for Public School Teachers to Discuss Political Views in the Classroom

According to a new poll, most Americans find it inappropriate for teachers to bring their political views into the classroom.

The Grinnell College National Poll, released on Wednesday, found that “most Americans support fellow citizens, members of Congress, and professional athletes speaking their minds about politics, but not public school teachers in the classroom.”

The national poll questioned respondents about if it was appropriate or inappropriate for members of seven different groups to speak their minds about political issues.

“All but one group received a thumbs up that it is appropriate to speak about politics within their associated setting,” the pollsters report. “The one exception – public school teachers. A majority (57%) say it is inappropriate for this group to speak about politics within their classrooms. Among parents of children in public schools, 41% say it is appropriate, while 58% say it is not.”

The pollsters found that “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 polling firm Selzer & Company, said that she believes Republicans are focusing on schools because it is an issue where they align with the values of suburban mothers.

“Views of what is happening in public schools is the one place where suburban women align with Republicans,” Selzer said. “The reason we hear so many messages about what is happening in public schools may be the Republican wish to re-take the suburbs in key swing states (for example, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania). That shift from voting for Donald Trump in 2016 to Joe Biden in 2020 hinged on a shift among suburban voters, in particular suburban women.”

The poll also found that a 55 percent majority of Americans do want parents to play a role in what is offered for children in libraries.

“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.”

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