PDK Poll: Support for school security measures, but not armed teachers - AZEdNews
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PDK Poll: Support for school security measures, but not armed teachers


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  • Albert C. Chen, M.E.   |   PDK International

School Resource Officer Joseph Bunting Treats Students At Calabasas School To A Reading Of "Green Eggs And Ham" In February. Photo Courtesy Carol Cullen/Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District

The 54th annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools demonstrates broad support for school security measures, with 80% of respondents supporting armed police officers on duty while classes are in session.

When it comes to arming teachers and staff, however, support falls to only 45%.

PDK Poll: Support for school security measures, but not armed teachers support-for-proposed-security-measures-PDKPoll_2022_table2_R2
Support for proposed security measures chart courtesy of the 2022 PDK Poll

Despite the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022, overall attitudes are similar to the 2018 PDK Poll, which asked the same questions of public school parents after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Other notable findings surrounding school security include:

  • Allowing teachers and staff to arm themselves is the only item on which more Americans are strongly opposed, 34%, than strongly in favor, 21%. Strong opposition is in the single digits on all other suggested measures (armed police officers in school, metal detectors, and student mental health screenings).
  • The sharpest divisions on school security issues are partisan, specifically on allowing armed teachers and staff. Seventy-two percent of Republicans support this, dropping to 42% of independents and 24% of Democrats.
  • Armed police in schools is backed by 94% of Republicans, 78% of independents, and 70% of Democrats.
  • Those with a high school diploma or less are 29 points more apt than postgraduates to strongly support metal detectors, 26 points more likely to strongly support armed police in schools, and 12 points more likely to strongly support allowing armed teachers and staff.

PDK Poll: Support for school security measures, but not armed teachers Support-for-security-measures-by-political-affiliation-PDKPoll_2022_table3_R2
Support for proposed security measures by political affiliation and ideology chart courtesy 2022 PDK Poll

The sharpest divisions on school security issues are partisan, specifically on the question of allowing armed teachers and staff. Seventy-two percent of Republicans support this, dropping to 42% of independents and 24% of Democrats. The split by ideology is similar: 66% of conservatives are in support, compared with 45% of moderates and 16% of liberals.

Political gaps are narrower on two other items: armed police in the schools, which is backed by 94% of Republicans, 78% of independents, and 70% of Democrats; and metal detectors, favored by 84% of Republicans vs. 75% of Democrats and independents alike.

On the fourth item — mental health screening for all students — gaps run in the other direction, with higher support among Democrats (86%) and liberals (85%) than among Republicans (74%) and conservatives (75%), although there’s still substantial majority support in those groups.

There also are some differences by education and region. Armed teachers, armed police, and metal detectors receive markedly stronger support from less-educated Americans than among those who have college degrees, especially postgraduates. Those with no more than a high school diploma are 29 points more apt than postgraduates to strongly support metal detectors, 26 points more likely to strongly support armed police in schools, and 12 points more likely to strongly support allowing armed teachers and staff.

There’s no meaningful gap between these groups on mental health screenings.

Among other gaps, strong support for armed police in the schools is 13 points higher in the South than in the rest of the country.

And overall support for allowing teachers to carry guns is particularly low in the Northeast, 35%, compared with 47% in the rest of the country.

To learn more about the findings from the 54th annual PDK Poll surrounding school security visit pdkpoll.org.

Complete results from the 54th annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools will be published on August 29, 2022, at pdkpoll.org.

About the PDK Poll

The PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools has been a steady reflection of U.S. opinion about public education since 1969. PDK produces the annual poll as part of its mission to engage educators and serve schools so every student thrives.

The PDK Poll results provide researchers with some of the finest longitudinal data on how the public feels about the nation’s schools and education policies. Education policy makers use the poll’s findings to inform their decisions, and educators across the country use the results to guide planning and action in their communities.

Since 2016, Langer Research Associates has produced the poll for PDK.

PDK Poll: Support for school security measures, but not armed teachers NogalesSROByCarolCullenCalabasasSchoolHP
School Resource Officer Joseph Bunting treats students at Calabasas School to a reading of “Green Eggs and Ham” in February. Photo courtesy Carol Cullen/Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District