MPR reporter Tim Post has a very compelling story today about the burnout experienced by teachers at the end of the school year.
It was, by all accounts, a difficult year for teachers, what with their holding a job that requires them to spend a day with dozens of kids — could you? — and having a job that puts them in the public eye and makes them easy targets for criticism.
Just one thing is missing from the complaint: A solution.
Teacher morale is eroding; that’s not new. MPR’s Daily Circuit did a show on it a few months ago, following a survey from Metropolitan Life that showed almost 1 of every 3 teachers is contemplating doing something else.
“No one wants to think that their work is undervalued or being blamed,” Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, said. “The rhetoric has been so heated that it makes it hard for teachers to feel good day in and day out. ”
Wait! There are people who feel good about work day in and day out?
The Met Life survey found that fewer than half of those teachers surveyed said they were very satisfied with their jobs. That was described as the worst morale in 20 years.
But the report also said that 81 percent are somewhat or very satisfied. And only 30-some percent said they were somewhat or very unsatisfied.
Curiously, while 81 percent said they were satisfied with their work, only 54% said they were optimistic that student achievement will get any better. What do we make of 27% of teachers being satisfied while being pessimistic about the improved student achievement?
These numbers, if they can be believed, tell another story when compared to the rest of the working world: teachers have it better.
In the broader working world, only 45 percent of workers in the U.S. are satisfied in the job, down 4% from 2008, according to the Conference Board.
The American workplace has become a stressful place with a high burnout factor in the last decade as employers shed workers, and the rest of us pick up the slack, often without the help of other workers pulling their fair share of the load.
Forty-four percent of the teachers in the Met Life survey report their schools have had layoffs in the last year. Forty percent in the workforce overall have had layoffs or announced layoffs in just the last six months, according to the GlassDoor employment confidence survey.
One in every 5 American workers is concerned he/she will be laid off. One in every 3 is concerned a co-worker will be. There’s no available data that I can find for teachers in that category, especially since the state this year wrestled with a bill that would have allowed schools to lay off teachers on something other than seniority.
It may well be that low teacher morale and a feeling of being unappreciated will lead to more teachers quitting, too. But the surveys of the non-teacher working world don’t suggest that there’s a paradise out there.
A survey from the Department of Labor this week found 64% of working Americans leave their jobs because they don’t feel appreciated. So it’s entirely understandable that the reaction to our story today is, “you, too, pal?”