Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Most Prestigious Occupations

The research crew at Harris Interactive is out with the results of a new poll today that puts teachers in the mix of the six "most prestigious occupations."

According to Harris, half of U.S. adults polled by telephone between July 10 and 16 identified six occupations as having "very great" prestige: firefighters (61%), scientists (54%), teachers (54%), doctors (52%), military officers (52%), and nurses (50%). They are followed by police officers (46%) priests/ministers/clergy (42%) and farmers (41%).

Interestingly, the perception of teachers in this poll has risen significantly -- by 25 points from 29 to 54 percent -- in the 30 years since the poll was first started. Athletes, by contrast, have fallen 10 points from 26 to 16 percent. Some other established professions have also seen declines, including scientists (down 12 points), doctors (nine points), bankers (seven points) and entertainers (six points).

Principals, though not mentioned specifically in the mix, should take pride in these findings. After all, where do principals come from?

As the AWSP Executive Board discussed yesterday at its annual planning retreat, the development of principals, particularly principals of color, is largely dependent on the number of students who see teaching as professional calling. Therefore, the more that can be done to model teaching as a positive profession, the greater the opportunity for more young people to enter the profession and, perhaps, take the next step into educational administration.

In case you were wondering: the five occupations perceived by one-quarter or more of adults to have "hardly any prestige at all include stockbrokers (25%), union leaders (30%), entertainers (31%), real estate brokers (34%) and actors (38%).

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