Teacher morale hits a 20-year low

Looking over students
Teacher Susan Oblinger, of Centerville High School in Chantilly, Va., looks over her students during a test in Honors Algebra II, in a file photo.
AP Photo/Stephen J. Boitano

A new study from MetLife shows that teacher morale is at a 20-year low. The percentage of teachers who said they were very satisfied dropped from 59 percent in 2009 to 44 percent last year.

"This decline in teacher satisfaction is coupled with large increases in the number of teachers who indicate that they are likely to leave teaching for another occupation and in the number who do not feel their jobs are secure," according to the report. The number of teachers who were very or fairly likely to change professions jumped from 17 to 29 percent since 2009.

Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, said teachers are in a tough position in the current political debates about education.

"No one wants to think that their work is undervalued or being blamed," she said. "The rhetoric has been so heated that it makes it hard for teachers to feel good day in and day out."

Jacobs will join The Daily Circuit Wednesday to discuss teacher morale. Amber Damm, a middle school language arts teacher at Clara Barton Open School in Minneapolis, will also join the conversation. She was the 2009 Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

"I think the piece that is difficult is that more and more is being asked of teachers but nothing is being removed from their responsibilities," Damm said. "I started with 25 kids in a classroom tops and now I never have a class under 30 kids and sometimes it's 35 to 40 kids. Class size increase, paperwork, new testing, all of the different pieces that go into teaching are increasing. They aren't bad things; it's just there's more and more to do every year. It's one of those jobs where even if you worked 17 hours a day, you'd never get it all done."

With the recent focus on teacher evaluation and the heated rhetoric surrounding education policy, many teachers say they're not surprised by the low job satisfaction stats. Is this drop in morale affecting classrooms and what does the future of teaching look like?

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