Teachers can extend learning by having students...Obama's astute political move will be to offer saccharin encouragement to study hard, eat healthily, exercise regularly, etc, and then let the pols and pundits sympathetic to him ridicule those who protested for being hysterical nuts.
- Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals.
My reaction to this was that it is understandable why even so bland an insertion of Obama into elementary schools would be resisted by most people somewhere on the right side of the political spectrum. Even if the content of the address was ideologically unobjectionable in its entirety, getting teachers to lead classroom "discussions" revolving around contemporary politics would often result in an injection of their own personal views, putatively to the left of the larger public.
In turning to the GSS to gauge the political orientation of elementary school teachers, I expected to find evidence backing up this line of reasoning, based on surveys finding university academics to be overwhelmingly leftist (in addition to ample personal experience in college) and the surefire backing of Democratic political candidates by the NEA in virtually every election it involves itself in.
However, primary school teachers are far less politically distinguishable from the rest of the country than I assumed they were. The following table shows the partisan and political distributions of elementary school teachers (n = 304), college and university instructors (n = 105), and the country as a whole. For contemporary relevancy, only responses from 2000 onward are included:
Primary school "teaching professionals" are less likely to fence sit than the broader public is. This comes as little surprise, as the estimated average IQ for elementary school teachers in the US is 107.4, nearly ten points higher than that of US residents as a whole, and moderates tend to be less intelligent than liberals and conservatives are. College and university instructors (estimated average IQ of at least 114.6 and very possibly half a standard deviation higher) further underscore this tendency. But unlike university instructors, elementary school teachers do not deviate much politically from the broader public.
Both measures of political persuasion are on a 7 point scale. Another way to gauge where elementary school teachers are relative to the broader population is to look at the mean value for each, where 1 is extremely liberal/Democratic, 4 is perfectly centrist, and 7 is extremely conservative/Republican. By partisan identification, the mean for elementary school teachers is 4.00, compared to 3.83 for the entire population (3.05 for college/university instructors). For political orientation, teachers average 4.20, to 4.15 for the whole country (3.10 for those teaching in colleges/universities). Again, elementary school teachers are quite similar to the general public and are actually marginally more right-leaning than the rest of the country is.
Parenthetically, I still empathize with those who oppose young children being subjected to directed messages from the President in a school setting, despite finding those who teach them to be more politically balanced than I expected.
GSS variables used: ISCO88(2310)(2331), POLVIEWS, PARTYID(0-6), YEAR(2000-2008)