Teacher job satisfaction is at the lowest it’s been in more than two decades, likely as a consequence—at least in part—of the economic downturn and resulting cuts to education budgets, according to a national survey.
The 28th annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, released today, 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.
The report is based on telephone interviews of 1,001 U.S. public school teachers conducted last fall by Harris Interactive on behalf of MetLife Inc. (The MetLife Foundation provides funding toEducation Week Teacher to support its capacity to engage teachers interactively in professional community.)
In another indication of declining morale, according to the report, 29 percent of teachers say they are likely to leave the teaching profession within the next five years—up from 17 percent in 2009.
Regis Shields, director of Education Resource Strategies in Watertown, Mass., called that finding one of the most intriguing in the report. “What we need more information on is who the 29 percent of teachers likely to leave the teaching profession are,” she said. “If these aren’t effective teachers and this increases the effectiveness of the teaching force, that’s great. If they’re high-quality teachers, then we have some concerns.”
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. That figure has more than quadrupled, according to the report—with 34 percent now saying they feel a lack of job security.
“Teaching is generally a pretty secure job [but] we have certainly seen some places really hard hit,” commented Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the Washington-based National Council on Teacher Quality. “In other places, maybe they didn’t actually have to lay off as many teachers as they feared, but it certainly created a stressful environment.”
Teachers with low job satisfaction, the MetLife data show, are more likely than those with high job satisfaction to say they feel a lack of job security
The report highlights a variety of other factors associated with low job satisfaction as well. For instance, teachers with low job satisfaction are less likely than those with high job satisfaction to say they receive adequate professional development from their school or district. Less satisfied teachers are also more likely to say their schools have experienced layoffs, reductions in programs such as art or music, reductions in health or social services for students, and increases in class sizes.
The “correlation between job satisfaction and these factors suggests that the current economic climate may be contributing to the decrease in professional satisfaction,” the report states.
Only 35 percent of the teachers surveyed say their salary is fair for the work they do—a figure that has remained relatively stable over the years, according to Dana Markow, vice president of Youth & Education Research for Harris Interactive. <Read more.>