Monday, March 12, 2012

Survey: Teacher Morale At 20-Year Nadir

The New York Times (3/8, Santos, Subscription Publication) that according to a newly-released MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, "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 among the nation's teachers to its lowest point in more than 20 years." Most 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." Three years ago, only a quarter of respondents indicated this view.


Education Week (3/8, Heitin) reports that a leading likely contributing factor to this decline in morale is "the economic downturn and resulting cuts to education budgets." The survey "finds that 44 percent of teachers are 'very satisfied' with their jobs, down from 59 percent in 2009. The last time job satisfaction dipped as low was in 1989." Meanwhile, "the survey also suggests that teachers are increasingly anxious about holding onto their jobs. In 2006, just 8 percent of teachers said they did not feel their job was secure."


Writers: Results No Surprise. National Education Policy Center Director Kevin Welner writes at the Huffington Post (3/8) that the survey quantifies the lack of "fun" to be derived from being "repeatedly punched in the gut." He writes that "while this 15-point plummet is no doubt caused in part by the bad economy and budget cutting, it's also hard to overlook things like Waiting for Superman, the media deification of Michelle Rhee, and the publishing of flawed 'scores' that purport to evaluate teachers based on students' test results -- an offense first committed by the Los Angeles Times and now taken up by the New York Times and other New York papers. Teachers knew these evaluations were unreliable and invalid even before researchers documented those problems."


Emily Richmond, public editor for the National Education Writers Association, writes at The Atlantic (3/8) that the survey's results are "worrisome -- but perhaps not surprising," noting that the survey is "a reminder not to make assumptions about who are the unhappiest educators. It's not necessarily the burned-out veteran, or those working with the most challenging student populations. In reality, when comparing teachers with higher and lower job satisfaction, the survey shows no real difference in their years of experience, the grades they taught or the proportions of their students from low-income households."

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