Teachers are fed up with the war on “woke” classrooms

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New polling shows teachers aren’t happy with classroom culture wars. Conservative grandstanding surrounding racial justice and gender identity has been particularly vitriolic.

The Pew Research Center has released results from comprehensive studies that build a damning picture of how the right-wing attacks have played out as well as community members’ opinions on whether or not the resulting political decisions have been appropriate.

The results come from multiple polls conducted over the past few months that surveyed teachers, parents, and students to get a more well-rounded profile of the nonstop attacks on the schoolroom.

Almost half of educators (41%) say the ongoing culture wars have negatively impacted their job satisfaction.

Educators have been fleeing the profession recently as job satisfaction levels have plummeted. The proportion of college graduates entering the profession has dropped to a 50-year low. Whether they are being targeted by conservative activists, hurt or killed in a school shooting, or tired of dealing with constant understaffing and low funding, more and more American teachers are dropping out.

Approximately 71% of teachers say they don’t have enough influence over what is taught in their classrooms, and racial justice and gender identity are two of the topics they are most frustrated over. Over half, 58%, say that state government now has too much influence over class curriculum after rightwing takeovers of school boards and state education departments.

The surveys also asked elementary, middle, and high school teachers about the students at their respective grade levels.

About 64% said that students should be taught that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society. Only 8% said it shouldn’t be taught at all. Majorities of teachers at all grade levels supported the inclusion of this fact into classroom lessons.

But when it comes to gender identity, the results were different. Half of teachers believe that students shouldn’t be taught about “whether a person’s gender can be different from or is determined by their sex assigned at birth.” While 62% of elementary teachers thought it shouldn’t be taught, only 45% of middle school teachers, and 35% of or high school instructors felt the same way.

A third of teachers supported teaching that gender identity is different than the sex assigned at birth, but 14% said that students should be taught that one’s sex assigned at birth cannot differ from their gender identity.

About 60% of teachers said that parents should not be able to opt-out their children from lessons that concern racial justice, but only a third of teachers said that lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity should be mandatory. Nearly 48% of teachers said that parents should have the right to opt-out of LGBTQ+ lessons.

While elementary teachers supported allowing parents to opt their children out of LGBTQ+-inclusive lessons. Teachers who identify as Republicans were the most likely to oppose any teaching about gender identity in schools. The political breakdown also showed a much higher support for racial justice by Democrat instructors.

Unsurprisingly, 80% of Republican teachers say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about LGBTQ+ issues, compared with 30% of Democratic teachers. 

However, a majority of teachers said that such lessons aren’t really an issue to begin with, since 68% of teachers reported that issues surrounding sexual orientation or gender identity “rarely or never” came up in the classroom.

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