Most Americans think teachers in their communities are underpaid - poll

Class canceled amid Oklahoma teachers strike

As teachers in some states strike over higher pay and benefits this week, a recent CBS News poll finds that most Americans don't think teachers in their community are paid enough.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans say teachers in their community are paid too little, about one in five think they are paid the right amount, and a mere five percent say they are paid too much.

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Most Americans across geographic and demographic groups hold this view, but there are some differences.  While majorities across all regions of the country think teachers are paid too little, more of those in the south (76 percent) and west (72 percent) feel that way, compared to Americans living in the northeast (60 percent) and Midwest (58 percent).

Younger Americans, those ages 18-30 are the most likely age group to think teachers in their area are paid too little – eight in 10 think so. Fewer seniors hold this view (55 percent) but still a majority.  Similar percentages of parents with children under 18 years of age (69 percent) and Americans without children that age (67 percent) feel teachers in their community are underpaid.

Across the political spectrum, majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents agree that teachers are paid too little, but Democrats (77 percent) and independents (69 percent) are more likely to say this than Republicans (54 percent).

Americans hold grade school teachers in high regard when it comes to ethical standards. According to a Gallup Poll conducted last December, 66% say grade school teachers have very high or high honesty and ethical standards, ranking them third in a list of 22 occupations tested, behind only nurses (82 percent) and military officers (71 percent).