Survey: Teacher job satisfaction takes a dive

Posted at 10:51 AM, Mar 16, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-16 10:56:00-04

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) – A recently released survey indicates budgets aren’t the only thing on the downslide in the nation’s schools. According to the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, educators’ satisfaction with their jobs is plummeting.

Back in 1986, about 33 percent of the teachers surveyed said they were satisfied with their jobs in public schools. That marked a low point in the history of the survey. The number jumped to 40 percent a year later, and with some fluctuation, teacher satisfaction climbed to a high of 62 percent by 2008.

But like the economy itself, which has been a drag on schools since the recession hit, teacher satisfaction began to sputter in 2008. It had dropped three points to 59 percent by 2009. And the real freefall took place over the following two years, landing at 44 percent satisfaction by late 2011, when the most recent survey was taken.

Not surprisingly, as satisfaction decreased, desire to leave the profession increased. In 2009, 17 percent of teachers surveyed said they were likely to leave the profession in search of another career; in 2011, it was 29 percent.

Some other interesting findings of this survey: Whether teachers are satisfied or not isn’t linked to demographic characteristics like their race or gender, and it’s not tied into how long they’ve been teaching, the grade level they teach, or the proportion of students at their school who are from low-income families.

Also, teachers with lower job satisfaction are more likely to teach in schools where minority populations make up more than two-thirds of the student body, and in these schools, educators’ likeliness to leave the profession is higher, according to the survey.

Of course, job security plays a role in teacher satisfaction as well. Given the current climate of layoffs and buyouts, it’s not surprising to find that teachers who feel their jobs are insecure are more likely to be unsatisfied with them. And respect factors in, too: Teachers who don’t feel professionally respected by their communities are more likely to leave the field.

This could signal difficult times ahead for school districts looking to retain good teachers and recruit new ones. It also begs questions about the impact this will have on education. Can uninspired teachers still inspire their students?

Click here to read the latest edition of the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher.

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