Teacher job satisfaction has plummeted to its lowest level in 25 years, from 62 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2012 – a total of 23 points, according to the annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, released on Thursday. In addition, teachers reporting low levels of job satisfaction were more likely to be working in schools with shrinking budgets, fewer opportunities for professional development, and less time allotted for teacher collaboration. More than one-half of teachers report feeling under great stress several days per week, as opposed to one-third in 1985.
The survey—the 29th in an annual series commissioned by MetLife and conducted by Harris Interactive1— examines the views of teachers on challenges facing schools, budget and resources, professional satisfaction, and implementation of the Common Core State Standards.
“The survey’s findings underscore the responsibilities and challenges educators must address to ensure America’s young people are prepared to compete and collaborate in the global economy,” said Dennis White, vice president of corporate contributions for MetLife. “We hope the findings of this survey will help us all pose and address questions about school leadership that can turn challenges into opportunities for better student achievement.”
The survey’s results, says National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel, are sadly no surprise. Pressure on our educators –teachers, support staff and administrators–is at unprecedented levels and resources continue to be scarce.
“Of course educators are wringing their hands. Classrooms are already crammed with students, programs and services have been cut, and teachers are entering pink slip season…all while the further budget cuts loom as a result of fiscal cliff inaction,” Van Roekel said.
“Educators are doing everything they can to provide the best education possible for their students, but the rug just keeps getting pulled out from under them.” NEA members continue to warn against the potential impact of impending fiscal cliff cuts, which kick in on March 1 unless Congress acts to avert them.
NEA believes teachers sense of personal fulfillment in their jobs depends on access to sustained, job-embedded, collaborative professional development, a sense of autonomy and professional responsibility, and most importantly, the ability to grow within the teaching profession.
According to the MetLife survey, time for collaboration and professional learning remains limited. More than six in ten teachers say that time to collaborate with other teachers and professional development opportunities have either decreased or stayed the same during the past 12 months. Diminishing professional development correlates with the school’s financial condition. Teachers who report that their school’s budget has decreased in the past 12 months are three times as likely as others to report that there have been decreases in time to collaborate with other teachers (35 percent vs. 11 percent) and in professional development opportunities (27 percent vs. 8 percent).
“Lawmakers must ask themselves, ‘how much longer can our schools continue to be drastically underfunded and understaffed without significant damage to the quality of the education our students are receiving? Educators work hard to give their students the great education they deserve, but the MetLife survey is compelling evidence that their resolve is wearing thin,’” said Van Roekel.