The 2012 “Survey of the American Teacher” was released last week; its results reflect the current turmoil in the American economy, state budgets, and education reform. The survey found that teachers’ job satisfaction has decreased 15 points since 2009 (the first year of the survey). Only 44 percent of teachers reported feeling “very satisfied” with their job, the lowest rate in two decades.
More teachers are feeling their jobs are insecure, moving from 8% in 2006 to 34% this year. Over the past two years, 29% of teachers have said they are considering leaving the field, an increase of 12 percentile points. “Teachers have come to the point where they’re getting older and getting pushed to retire. It makes me think twice about my work plans. I don’t want to be in a work environment that just gets worse and worse,” says Christine Yarzabek, a first-grade teacher from Pennsylvania.
“The results are not at all surprising given the context within which teachers have been working for the last couple of years,” said Kevin Welner, a University of Colorado, Boulder education professor. “Teacher bashing has been so undermining of the profession that it’s sapping the appeal out of the career choice.”
The evident unhappiness of many of the nation’s teachers has raised another important question: How will they vote this election year? The Obama administration has had a tumultuous relationship with teachers and their unions, and seems to be trying to soften some of the past criticisms they have leveled at the profession. The two largest teachers’ unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, have endorsed President Obama, but this doesn’t seem to have cemented teacher support behind him.
Additionally, the survey also seeks the opinions of parents and students. Thirty-nine percent of parents, and 43% of teachers, have indicated they are pessimistic that student achievement will improve in the next five years. Also, most parents say their communities treat teachers as professionals, and half believe teacher pay is unfair. Sixty-three percent of teachers have reported their class sizes have increased in the last year, and two-thirds report that more of their students are requiring social support services.
To read the full report, please visit http://www.metlife.com/assets/cao/contributions/foundation/american-teacher/MetLife-Teacher-Survey-2011.pdf