Survey: Teacher Job Satisfaction Drops to New Low

Teachers are less satisfied with their jobs than they have been in decades, according to the 2012 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. Almost one-third of teachers are thinking of leaving the profession they love – due in part to the unconscionable cuts in education funding. NEA President Dennis Van Roekel described this finding as “shocking” and said it was clear evidence that ill-conceived economic policies are having devastating consequences on teachers and students across the country. More than three quarters of the teachers surveyed reported that their school’s budget had decreased.

“I have heard similar concerns from NEA members,” Van Roekel said. “They have told me that staff and important programs have been cut; early childhood education has been eliminated; computers and text-books were out of date; and classes such as history, art, PE and music—which provide a well-rounded education—are no longer offered.”

The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers, Parents and the Economy, the 28th in an annual series commissioned by MetLife and conducted by Harris Interactive, examines the views of teachers, parents and students about the teaching profession, parent and community engagement, and effects of the economy on teaching and learning in schools.

Two-thirds of the teachers surveyed reported that layoffs of teachers, staff and parent/community liaisons occurred at their school in 2011, and three-quarters have experienced budget cuts in their schools in the last 12 months. The survey also found that teachers and parents of students in these cash-strapped schools are more likely to be pessimistic that student achievement will be better in five years than are teachers and parents of students in schools where budgets have remained the same or increased.

“This is not the way America should treat its students, the vast majority of whom attend public schools.  And it is especially outrageous to students in schools of greatest need, “Van Roekel said.

The bright spot in the survey is that parent and community engagement with schools has increased. For example, fewer teachers and parents now believe that there is widespread parental disengagement with their children’s school and education in general.

Overall, the survey found that a majority of both teachers (77 percent) and parents (71 percent) agree that teachers are treated as professionals by the community. In addition, parents of students in schools with high parent engagement are more likely than those with low engagement to rate their child’s teachers as “excellent” or “good” on a range of measures.

Increasing parent and family involvement is an NEA priority and a top strategy of NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign, which focuses on schools in low-income areas.

“The survey’s findings underscore that education is a shared responsibility, particularly in the face of financial challenges,” said Dennis White, vice president of corporate contributions for MetLife. “Economic prosperity will depend on a new generation well-prepared to learn for a lifetime in order to compete and collaborate in a global economy.”

Read the Complete Survey

See also: How Bad Education Policies Demoralize Teachers (NEA Today)

President Obama’s FY2013 budget proposal targets education  for the  single largest percentage increase of any discretionary item in the entire federal budget. Tell Congress today to pass a budget resolution that reflects the President’s emphasis on education as a top priority.

  • Lynne

    I’ve always pondered the question that I didn’t have a choice in creating this wonderful, beautiful, fantastic individual standing before me but somehow I am being crucified for this individual not meeting expectations. I teach 29 students everyday everything I know about the curriculum,standards,benchmarks, and life’s hard knocks but somehow it’s still not enough. My own two children do not know who their mother is because once the school year kicks off, she gets so involved with school life that she doesn’t have the energy,time, and effort to give them what they so deserve. I have been laid off six times and possibly the seventh time in my career that just doesn’t seem to stand up to the demands of this profession. Yes, public school education is under attack. The very foundation of early childhood education has flown somewhere. It was and still is my passion. It all boils down to money. There isn’t any! So where is up???????

  • Kathy

    I wonder if we will have a public education in 10 yrs. If we keep following this path many teachers will leave. I’ve seen some great teachers leave in the past 5 years, because of all the changes. I have a few complaints
    1. Many districts do not hold students/parents responsible. (To save money district allow failing students to be pass on to the next grade until 9 or 10 grades).
    2. Support; many states have decided to not support their public schools. They have decreased the amount of money each year although prices (paper, gas, etc) have increased.
    3. it’s just insane to make the teacher responsible for students 100% what do you do when students don’t want to do their best
    I’ve had a two teachers tell me that they had a student state “we don’t like you so we are not going to do well on the test so you’ll get fired”
    3. Some states are trying to pass laws where teachers can’t unionize.
    4. The new evaluation system
    5. Hearing that some states are trying to penalize rather than reward teachers. New Jersey is considering cutting a teacher’s salary in half if they are not up to par by certain standards
    teachers are being bullied instead of supported.

  • Pingback: Education Votes()

  • Beth

    A teacher’s union and tenure is like a doctor holding malpractice insurance. Is a doctor going to perform a surgery where he knows the outcome may not be the best, but he’s got to try anyway? Teachers have to teach EVERYONE. It is not our fault if a student comes to school and their parents have already put it into their mind that they are worthless. Or, if their parents were doing drugs/drinking/whatever all throughout pregnancy and their childhood – SO many factors go into a child’s education rather than just the teacher. In fact, the teacher is a very small part of how well a student is able to learn.

    Yes, I am considering leaving. I am a fine arts teacher, and fine arts are being cut left and right in our schools. Fine arts can be a huge motivator for students, and yet schools continue to tell us that it’s not important and it’s getting harder and harder for students to become well-rounded, instead of just being reading and writing robots.

    Do I still love it and think it’s worth it? Absolutely. Do I need to have a paycheck every month? Yes.

  • After 20 years as a special education teacher, I am leaving education. I don’t even have a plan–just know I am done. When I am held accountable for my 60 FSIQ students failing English proficiency tests because they cannot read at high school grade level and cannot write a simple cohesive sentence let alone a 5 sentence paragraph, time to get out.

  • Dan McConnell

    Regarding teachers and their level of job satisfaction: “Lows” in job satisfaction have much to do with outright disrespect for the profession and the people actually DOING the job of educating children. Critics try to poke holes in the amazing work done in public schools, and when weaknesses in their arguments arise,they shift their criticism to another angle. U.S. students are first compared to students from other countries, but when you realize that the wealth gap is far less,students there are more homogeneous,their school system decides who is educated towards what end,and teachers are well respected and compensated for their work…well we can’t have that in the U.S. now. U.S. schools, especially in N.Y. are victimized by bureaucracy and a testing industry that has leeched off the public, driven policy, and pulled the strings on how we educate children. It is now pulling harder. These days they are joined by private charter “school” interests looking to capitalize on the public funds that once supported schools for any and every child.They push “school choice” which will certainly separate the easiest to educate from the most needy students-instead of entering into the same tiring but rewarding battle that REAL educators take on.The new tactic is to focus on the cost of teachers and teaching, by way of attacking the skills of the teacher.Students, families,and the school professionals most familiar to them and with them are treated as objects to be manipulated and objectified-turned into data.The key to increased job satisfaction for teachers is to give them the respect they deserve. Acknowledge the truly amazing things they do beyond the ABCs and 123s. Don’t whine about pay that overall is median level, if that. And mostly, don’t allow silver-spoon politicians and their cronies who have little to no experience in real,struggling public schools to pretend they know what will work. Want to see job satisfaction and improved outcomes?Hand over some of this “reform” to real teachers.

  • Race to the Top, Arne Duncan and Barak Obama have a lot to do with the condition of public education today. The US DOE is still a major villain in the privatization push going on. I understand (and agree) that the current administration is better than the alternative, but we need to stand up for public education, our students and our fellow teachers.

    Our endorsement of President Obama should have come with some conditions…if he’s reelected does anything think that the ongoing destruction of public education is going to end?

    The Met Life report only echoes what we already know…that teachers are taking the brunt of the war on public education…

  • Jesse

    Frankly folks, we’ve allowed this to happen. Let’s face it: our college/teacher-prep programs are flimsy, we have ridiculously low standards for employee retention and our unions have fought tooth and nail to block all sorts of reform. Of course people are taking shots at us. Of course we’re struggling to adjust. Of course our morale is low. We’ve been working our butts off, but at the same time the unions we pay for have been resisting measures designed to make our jobs easier, build our professional esteem and improve our student outcomes.

    We can complain about politicians and parents until the cows come home, but we don’t control those things. Let’s focus on the changes we can make to build our profession back up.

  • Carol

    I moonlight as an adjunct for an education methods course at an area college. I tell my students that teaching is the one profession where one thank you note from a student can keep you going for at least one more year. We DO make a difference. Sadly, lately it has felt to me that while I have gotten these notes, and had a very well written one in December from a student, it has already “worn off”. I know that I need to choose my attitude, and give my students the best I’ve got. I want to do well for their sakes, so that they can do well. It’s just getting harder, and I’m getting tired/discouraged so much more easily than I used to. This change in how life seems to be, and in myself, is frightening. I DO care about my kids, but I’m much more pessimistic about how easily I can reach them or teach them.

  • Ellie

    I think the real problem is in the moral decay of society. Values and citizenship are nonexsistent today. Teachers are told to teach these to students and we are given none of the power to do so. Parents and students alike often despise teachers. On the other end adminstrators only care about money. They make us jump through as many hoops as necessary to secure their budget. They take the side of parents and students and often treat us with contempt. I feel like, as a teacher, I have a front row seat to the moral decay and destruction of our once great country. And the worst part is my hands are tied by all the mandates and regulations to do anything. Knowing what I know about public education the last thing I want is for my own children to be educated in the public sector. And it’s not because the teachers aren’t good, it’s because society, beaucracy, and the system are so broken.