We’re quitting: Neglect, politics and COVID are to blame

States across the U.S. are conducting teacher-targeted surveys to learn why so many are "seriously considering" leaving the profession.

Teachers are sorely disappointed in the current state of education, recent data shows.

Last month, the American Federation of Teachers unveiled a detailed analysis explaining what schools need to do to better retain educators.

“Teachers and school staff have been struggling for years with a lack of professional respect; inadequate support and resources; subpar compensation; untenable student loan debt; endless paperwork; and a culture of blame that weaponizes standardized tests to attack public schools and public school teachers,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten in a statement.

Despite the guidance, surveys conducted in several states reveal a growing resentment toward the job.

Texas

The Texas Teachers Association released the numbers from their latest teacher moonlighting and morale survey on Monday, which has been used to record Texas teachers’ concerns for over 40 years.

A record number of teachers (70%) say they’re seriously considering abandoning the profession. Comparably, 53% of teachers expressed this same feeling in 2018, the last time the survey was conducted.

The reasons they consider quitting are similar to those found in the AFT report.

“Lingering stress from the pandemic is a factor, but it isn’t the only one,” TSTA President Ovidia Molina said in a statement. “Inadequate pay, political attacks on educators and the failure of state leaders to protect the health and safety of students and school employees also have combined to drive down the morale of teachers to the lowest level in recent memory and endanger our public school systems.”

In addition, most teachers reported feeling like they’ve lost the support of their state leaders and parents.


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Missouri

Missouri just recently finished gathering responses from its teachers. Results will be released on August 15 by the Blue Ribbon Commission, whose goal is to create recommendations and guidelines that address teacher recruitment and retention solutions.

The commission also held a public hearing for educators to speak up and provide their input in response to the following prompt: “Please share specific policy and practice shifts to improve the educator experience that you would like to see in the commission’s recommendations to the state board of education.”

“I stopped working in corporate America because I wanted to make a difference,” said one teacher in her testimony. “What I see as a parent and as an educator is that my child is in one of the best schools in the state of Missouri. But they are busting at the seams.”

The commission will deliver the results and other work to the state’s board of education in October with legislative suggestions and policy recommendations to address Missouri’s recruitment and retention issues.

Wyoming

Wyoming teachers say they’re unhappily locked into their jobs because of financial obligations.

The University of Wyoming’s College of Education and the Wyoming Education Association found that 65% of the state’s teachers would quit if they had the option to in a survey conducted in May.

Other major indicators from this research include mental health problems and concerns over meeting the educational needs of students.

Dr. Mark Perkins, assistant professor of education research at the UW, compiled the findings into a report. “Wyoming needs good teachers to stay and recent indicators suggest a problem,” the report states. “I strongly believe that focusing on mental health, community and professional support, assessment strategies, and teacher well-being and workload will help retain more good teachers and strengthen the future of Wyoming’s education system.”

Micah Ward
Micah Wardhttp://districtadministration.com
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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