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.
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. You can read the full report and polling data here.
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.”
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?
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.
Let Us Know in the Comments Below!
What’s your take on the subject? Are you finding yourself running faster, just to stay in place? We’d love to hear what you have to say!
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