The latest “MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers, Parents and the Economy” shows that education budget cuts to public schools and the demonization of teachers have taken a toll on teachers’ job satisfaction, AFT president Randi Weingarten says. And that jeopardizes student success.
“Often, we hear how important teachers are. But this survey tells us what teachers themselves are thinking, and it’s very sobering,” Weingarten says. “Teachers are telling us they have the lowest level of job satisfaction in more than two decades and that a growing number are planning to leave the profession.
“It’s not surprising that the most satisfied teachers are those who have support; they are treated as professionals, are given opportunities for professional growth, teach in communities where parents and educators collaborate to improve teaching and learning, and have job security. Sadly, at a time when we need to recruit and retain talented teachers and prepare kids for the knowledge economy, the teaching profession is becoming less attractive and more difficult.
“We need to pay attention when the teachers most likely to be dissatisfied are those with at-risk students—students who have the most needs but the fewest resources, at school and at home, because of the economic crisis. Teachers consistently say they need the tools, resources and time to improve teaching and learning—the same things that teachers in top-performing countries receive virtually without fail. U.S. teachers are frustrated with unrelenting cuts in budgets, elimination of arts and after-school programs, larger class sizes, and accountability systems that over-rely on student test scores. This should call into question the obsession with cutting funding for public education and health and family services children and parents rely on.
“The report’s silver lining is that there’s more engagement among parents, teachers and community groups to help students succeed.
“This report provides a commonsense road map for what we need to do to build successful schools: respect teachers, engage parents and the community, and, even in tough times, provide the programs and resources necessary to ensure high-quality public schools.”
Some key findings from “The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers, Parents and the Economy”:
- Teacher satisfaction has decreased by 15 points since “The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher” measured job satisfaction two years ago, now reaching the lowest level of job satisfaction seen in the survey series in more than two decades.
- This decline in teacher satisfaction is coupled with large increases in the number of teachers who indicate they are likely to leave teaching for another occupation, and in the number who do not feel their jobs are secure.
- Teachers with high job satisfaction are more likely to feel their jobs are secure and say they are treated as professionals by the community. They are also more likely to have adequate opportunities for professional development, time to collaborate with other teachers, more preparation and supports to engage parents effectively, and greater involvement of parents and their schools in coming together to improve the learning and success of students.
- More than three-quarters of teachers have faced budget cuts in their schools in the last year.
- Two-thirds of teachers report that their schools have had layoffs of teachers, parent/community liaisons or other staff in the last year.
- Nearly three in 10 teachers indicate that there have been reductions or eliminations of health or social services in their schools.
- Six in 10 teachers report that the average class size in their schools has increased.
- One-third of teachers also indicate that educational technology and materials have not been kept up to date to meet student needs.
- Students report greater parent engagement in their education compared with students 25 years ago. Two-thirds of today’s students report that they talk about things that happen at school with their parents every day, compared with four in 10 in 1988.
- There also has been a threefold increase in the number of students who report their parents visit their schools at least once a month, up from 16 percent in 1988 to 46 percent today.