How to Escape the Classroom (50% of U.S. Teachers Want to Know)

Half of All Teachers Want to Leave the Profession

There’s no denying the facts. Teaching is rapidly becoming a profession that people are desperate to leave. If you’ve been wondering how to escape the classroom, you are not alone. A new poll conducted by a professional teaching association finds that the profession is in big trouble. How to Escape the Classroom (50% of U.S. Teachers Want to Know) will point out a few of the reasons.

The 2019 PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools has some striking findings:

  • More than half of teachers are seriously considering leaving the profession.
  • The majority of teachers are ready to go on strike for better pay and working conditions.
  • More than half of teachers said they wouldn’t want their own children to become teachers.
  • High school teachers are the most likely to say they want to quit the profession.

How to Escape the Classroom 50% of U.S. Teachers Want to Know

Many teachers want to know how to get out of teaching.

The reasons for this are numerous, but they’re best summed up by a teacher who was quoted in the L.A. School Report: “I work 55 hours a week, have 12 years’ experience and make $43,000. I worry and stress daily about my classroom prep work and kids. I am a fool to do this job.”

In previous articles on this blog, we have looked at the many reasons that teachers are frustrated with their jobs. Those include low pay, an emphasis on standardized testing, lack of respect from students and parents, unsafe schools and added responsibilities. We have looked at teachers who work two, three or more jobs.

In this article, we’re going to focus on what the PDK poll and focus groups found.

What Is the PDK Poll?

The PDK poll is conducted annually. It includes focus groups with teachers and parents designed to get a sense of how the public perceives teachers and the education system.

The poll was paired with five days of online focus group meetings with educators and parents who answered open-ended questions about a variety of education-related topics.

The study was funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The final report includes suggestions and recommendations from education reform experts, teachers and parents.

Key Topics of the PDK Poll

Following are some of the key findings and representative comments that the report revealed.

Pay and School Funding

Many teachers are unhappy with their pay, but they are even more unhappy with the underfunding of schools. According to the poll, “Fifty-eight percent say they’d vote to strike for higher funding for school programs, and 52% say they’d vote to strike for greater teacher say in academic policies on standards, testing and the curriculum.”

Interestingly, 74% of parents said they would support teachers going on strike. “Even more interesting, 83% of parents and 79% of all adults say they’d support teachers striking for a greater voice in academic policies,” the poll concluded.

One Delaware teacher, however, called this support “smoke and mirrors.” She noted that politicians and the community always say they support teachers, but they always vote against higher pay and school funding.

A teacher in rural New Jersey said that the parents in her community do value teachers, but noted that many of them come from countries that don’t provide universal public education, “so they are grateful that their children can attend school with ease.”

Teaching as a Viable Profession

A majority of parents surveyed said they would not recommend teaching as a profession to their children.

That’s hardly surprising, since teachers are warning their own children against it. This was one of the biggest findings from the poll.

“A majority of teachers, 55%,” the poll found, “would not want their child to follow them into the profession, chiefly citing inadequate pay and benefits, job stress and feeling disrespected or undervalued. The result matches a PDK poll finding in 2018 in which a nearly identical 54% of all adults said they wouldn’t want their child to become a public school teacher, a majority for the first time since the PDK poll began asking the question in 1969. Poor pay and benefits topped the list of reasons.”

Discipline in Schools

Two-thirds of teachers and 50% of parents agreed that school discipline has become too lenient.

Following are two comments from teachers:

“The system in place puts the needs of the one above the needs of the many. One child’s so-called rights are placed above the well-being of the teacher and the entire rest of the class. And it ends up being the worst-behaving child who is most disruptive, because their behavior needs the most correcting.”

“The key to discipline is preventing the misbehavior in the first place, however, it seems like we are putting out fires all over the school instead of getting in front of the discipline problem.”

Assessing School Quality

Not surprisingly, 94% of teachers said measuring improvements over time was a better way of measuring outcomes than using standardized tests. Interestingly, 77% of parents agreed with this view.

One teacher told the focus group, “A day in the life of a school is a better assessment. Walk into the classroom, view the learning, view the attention, view the teaching skills, then ask learners what they like and dislike.”

One parent said, “You can walk around a school and tell a lot about the school by what you see and hear. The teachers and school culture tell you a lot. I look at the report cards every semester, but they’re not very telling.”

Top Reasons for Quitting

The poll asked teachers what their top reason for leaving the profession would be. There were several responses that hit the same theme of increased workload with low pay.

Most of the responses are reflected in this teacher’s remarks:

The pressures all around have become all-encompassing, and we are losing sight of the role of a classroom teacher in a primary classroom. Testing, standards, grading, scoring, constant evaluations are getting in the way of hands-on, meaningful learning opportunities.”

Are You Wondering How to Escape the Classroom?How to Escape the Classroom (50% of U.S. Teachers Want to Know)

It’s no wonder if you are. Teachers today face increasing demands on their time, increased stress and lower pay. It is not a good combination. Will more strikes, walkouts and teacher departures cause state governments to finally take notice? Only time will tell.

If you’re looking to supplement your income, or completely replace it, take a look at my #1 recommendation for escaping the classroom.  It’s a great resource for learning how to promote yourself, your aspirations, and your special concerns.

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18 thoughts on “How to Escape the Classroom (50% of U.S. Teachers Want to Know)”

  1. I really feel for teachers who want to do so much for their students, but then are limited to what they can actually do. My friend is a teacher; he talks about how unruly kids are becoming. In my opinion, good manners begin at home, but parents are so busy, kids are learning from social media on how to act in social settings. This sadly includes the school settings as well.

    Great topic, hope more people take note, so teachers won’t feel like they have to leave school. 

    • I can’t agree with you more.  The only role models many kids have are the ones on social media.  When angry, mean-spirited behavior is seen as the norm, we have a problem.  This is the message many of our kids are getting and it’s changing society for the worse.  You’re right, it can’t help but impact the classroom.

      Thanks for the kind words, and for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  2. It’s hard to imagine that 50% of US teachers would like to escape the classroom. There is no question that it’s a tough job and requires both a great temperament and advanced learning / education to do the job well. Standardized testing has put focus on places that give teachers little flexibility to meet the needs of the children in their own classroom. It’s frustrating for teachers, students, and parents as well. 

    • It is hard to imagine half of all teachers gone from our schools.  That would mean instead of a class of 25 students, you’d have 50 or more in the room for one teachers to deal with.  

      Then, when you consider that teachers in many schools have 30-40 students already…yikes!   As the poll suggested, we have a big problem.  I’m convinced that lax discipline and few consequences is a good place to start making changes.

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  3. Thanks for the article.  That is a lot of teachers wanting out.  I am in the UK and I can imagine it would be a similar situation.  I see a couple of factors that would be similar, pay and discipline in schools.  I have a degree and once thought about looking into teaching and one of my main reasons I did not follow up was down to discipline.  We have become too lenient with punishment today and schools have not got a leg to stand on.

    • I try to follow what’s happening with the schools in the UK.  The trustworthy information I have access to supports your suspicions.  I thinks teachers would be less concerned with the income if the working conditions were better.  However, when you have defiant, uncooperative students in your classroom, and administration, can’t or won’t help, it’s time to look elsewhere for income opportunities.  

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  4. Nancy, I am not a teacher but the percentage of teachers who want to leave the profession is not surprising. It’s a shame teacher’s aren’t valued like first responders due to the fact they are shaping our children’s future and in some ways saving their lives. Thank you for this article.

    • I suspect the reason teachers aren’t seen in the same way as teaching is because of the time involved. An emergency occurs, gets handled, and everyone involved moves on. Teaching takes a very long time, and involves many teachers.

      However, teachers are most definitely deserving of the same kind of respect. They are indeed helping to save lives. I used to get notes every year from students telling me how being in my classroom had made a positive impact on them. It was a much about the human element as the subject being taught. It proves your point!

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  5. In truth, the working condition has incapacitated us as teachers, and we are left to wallow in the decision to either leave the work or maintain the bad mannerism we get from both student and government. Yes, I’m among teachers who are considering to quit teaching because there are other opportunities that I can work on and would fetch me better pay than what I get staying in class. I am already into freelance writing, but I’d be more glad if I can get into Wealthy Affiliate to get a better opportunity to work as my own boss rather than being in an environment that doesn’t appreciate my services. Thanks.

    • I’m glad to see that you are taking steps to do something that creates more opportunities and money for you.  As you’ve noted, the working conditions for teachers are not going to change for the better anytime soon.  

      Good luck on working with Wealthy Affiliate.  It’s a great place to become your own boss and a great option for you!

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  6. I read once that in Japan the only citizens that don’t have to bow in front of the emperor are the teachers. This because they take care of the young minds of the empire. So it saddens me greatly to read your stats but on the other hand I can’t overlook the fact that these high rates of quitting are given solely by the ridiculous low salary they receive, which always made me sympathize with them. As you correctly say let’s put their skill to a better use.

    • I’m going to have to look up the information about Japanese teachers and the Emperor.  I wonder if the attitude towards teachers in Japan is still as high?  It’s a sad truth, but in today’s world people are often judged on their earning power.  As the PDK poll noted, teachers in the U.S. don’t earn what’s considered a high income.

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  7. Nancy, that is a brilliant article. Your style of writing is really interesting. I am a teacher too and your guess is better than mine, I will be happy to escape the class room too. But I am not in the USA, however, I can rightly say, it is the same here in Africa or probably, anywhere else in the world. It’s actually not my profession to start with, I only started doing it for the lack of jobs.

    • Thanks for the kind words.  I suspect you’re right about teachers world-wide wanting to escape teaching.  Unfortunately, the group that did the research only covers teachers in the U.S.  It would be interesting to see what teachers around the globe have to say.  What about creating interest in your country and publishing your findings?  

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  8. Hi, thanks for sharing such an important and informative post about how to escape the classroom. There is no doubt that teaching is rapidly becoming a profession that people are desperate to leave. Teaching is a profession where we have to work hard but get paid a very small amount. It is really very painful for the teachers, so they want to escape the job without any hesitation. By reading your post it I could understand that there are a number of ways we can plan our escape and lots of good options. You have suggested to turn it into an online business. I think it will be a good solution for the teachers. 

    Thanks again. I’ll share this post with my friends and family. Have a good day. 

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post.  Having you share it with friends and family will be wonderful.  It’s sad that many teachers don’t realize they have other good options for supporting themselves and their families.  Creating their own online business with Wealthy Affiliate is and excellent choice.

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  9. Hi, Thank you for this article. Your topic is very unique & interesting. I agree that most of the teachers quitting their profession is a result of all-encompassing pressure & heavy load of work. As a teacher, I also want to escape from my profession. I want to change my lifestyle, and start an online business as soon as possible. By the way, again thank you for your wonderful thought & research about escape the classroom.

    • Thank you for the kind words.  I agree with you that the pressure from the heavy workload is pushing many teachers out of the classroom.  I wish you the very best in starting your own online business.

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!


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