Most Americans Don’t Want Teachers Discussing Politics With Kids

A recent Grinnell College National Poll conducted by Selzer & Company has found that most Americans believe it is “inappropriate” for public school teachers to talk about politics in the classroom. Out of the 1,004 U.S. adults polled, 57% said that public school teachers should not bring their political views into the classroom. In contrast, 41% of parents of public school children disagreed.

Public school teachers were the only group Americans believed should not discuss politics, with solid majorities supporting lawful protesters, members of Congress, public school students, professional athletes, college professors, and clergy to talk about politics.

The results of the poll showed that those opposing the teachers’ ability to talk about politics in the classroom include Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (68%), suburban women (65%), those with incomes over $100K (63%), and Catholics (64%).

J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Company, suggested that the views about what is happening in public schools may reflect the Republican wish to retake the suburbs in key swing states, particularly among suburban women.

Regarding library materials in public schools, most Americans believe that school librarians, students, and families of students should play a significant role in deciding what books and materials are appropriate. At the same time, there is minimal appetite among respondents for state officials to play a big part in these decisions.

The poll found that most Americans believe that school libraries should include a diverse array of educational materials, including the Bible, books on sexual orientation and gender identity, and books on racism in American society. Americans were also more concerned that valuable materials would be removed from school libraries (62%) rather than harmful materials remaining available (30%).

The poll also explored the issue of parental notification about changes in a student’s gender identity. 43% of respondents said it was “very important” for schools to inform parents, while 31% said it was “not important.”

There was a significant difference in views by party identification, with 71% of Republicans saying it was very important, compared to 37% of independents and 25% of Democrats. A majority of Americans (53%) also opposed legislation banning gender-affirming care for children under 18 with the approval of their parents, guardians, and doctors.