Teacher Morale At Its Lowest Point in More Than 20 Years

In a new survey, the annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, indicated that the nation’s teachers’ morale is at  its lowest point in more than 20 years.  The report goes on to indicate that the slump in the economy, coupled with the acrimonious discourse over how much weight test results and seniority should be given in determining a teacher’s worth, have conspired to bring morale down.

More than half of teachers expressed at least some reservation about their jobs, their highest level of dissatisfaction since 1989, the survey found. Also, roughly one in three said they were likely to leave the profession in the next five years, citing concerns over job security, as well as the effects of increased class size and deep cuts to services and programs. Just three years ago, the rate was one in four.

About 40 percent of the teachers and parents surveyed said they were pessimistic that levels of student achievement would increase in the coming years, despite the focus on test scores as a primary measure of quality of a teacher’s work.

More than 75 percent of the teachers surveyed said the schools where they teach had undergone budget cuts last year, and about as many of them said the cuts included layoffs — of teachers and others, like school aides and counselors. Roughly one in three teachers said their schools lost arts, music and foreign language programs. A similar proportion noted that technology and materials used in the schools had not been kept up to date to meet students’ needs.

The survey, in its 28th year, showed similar attitudes among teachers working in poor and stable neighborhoods; in schools serving large numbers of immigrant students who are not proficient in English, as well as native speakers from middle-class backgrounds. The race and ethnicity of the students, and length of a teacher’s experience, had little bearing on the results.

Nonetheless, teachers in urban schools and in schools with a large proportion of minority students tended to be less satisfied about their jobs.

Teachers with high job satisfaction were more likely to feel secure in their jobs, and to have more opportunities for professional development, more time to prepare their lessons and greater parental involvement in their schools, the survey found.

It seems that the attack on education by governors, business people, Arnie Duncan, the Obama Administration, and the George W. Bush Administration has had an impact on education.  I do not think it has the impact that they desired, but it has had an impact. Where will America find the people to replace those who are leaving?  I think that is an answer that we must ask the people who dreamed up high stakes testing, No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top.

Franklin Schargel