Tax dollars would be increased…..

Americans consistently underestimate how much is spent annually to educate children in the nation’s public schools, including how much teachers are being paid.

But when they are told the actual amount, the percentage of the public that supports increasing teacher salaries drops from about two-thirds (63 percent) to less than half (45 percent), according the ninth annual Education Next poll.

“When the public is informed of teacher salaries, support for increasing salaries declines,” the EdNext poll found. “Support drops even further when the public is reminded that an increase would be funded by tax dollars.”

The poll was conducted in May and June by Professors Paul Peterson and Martin West of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

“People estimate that their local school districts spent $6,307 per child when we know from U.S. Department of Education statistics that it’s actually twice that” – or an average of $12,440 per child, Peterson told

“The response has been very consistent from year to year,” he said, adding that the steep drop in public support for more education spending is significant.

“You don’t get an 18 point difference very often,” he noted.

Americans also guessed that the 4 million public school teachers in the U.S. receive an average yearly salary of $38,294 – considerably lower than the actual average of $55,510, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Peterson said the poll questions did not include other teacher compensation, such as health benefits and pensions.