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and important programs have been cut; early childhood education has been eliminated; computers and text-books were out of date; and classes such as history, art, PE and music—which provide a well-rounded education—are no longer offered.”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.”