Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Teacher Morale Lowest in 20 Years

In a recent survey of the nation’s teachers, more than half expressed reservations about their jobs, according to the New York Times, the highest level of dissatisfaction since 1989. Nearly one-third said they were likely to leave teaching within the next five years (three years ago only 25% expected to leave teaching within five years). Many expressed concerns about job security, increased class sizes, cuts to programs and services.

The annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher revealed other anxieties and concerns pervasive among teachers. About 40% were pessimistic about achieving further gains in student test scores and many expressed anxiety about the increasing use of these scores to evaluate them. Over 75% of teachers said their schools had suffered budget cuts last year, with 50% experiencing layoffs at their schools. Nearly one-third said their schools lost arts, music or foreign language programs.

Considering the increasingly vitriolic attacks on teachers unions, the equally absurd accusations that teachers are to blame for every malady afflicting public education, real and imagined, along with the declining pay and working conditions, it is surprising that only 33% are planning on leaving the profession in the next five years. However, this is likely an artifact of the terrible state of the economy. There just aren’t a lot of jobs out there, making quitting a very risky prospect. Furthermore, teachers who have tenure and seniority have considerably more job security than they would if they found a new job, increasing the risks of quitting.

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