Driving school

Politics and pandemic are pushing Texas teachers to consider quitting, survey finds

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Results from a new online survey of K-12 teachers in Texas, released Thursday, show the most “seriously considered” are leaving the profession this year, a 19% increase from a year ago. two years old.

For its third annual teacher satisfaction survey, the Charles Butt Foundation last spring sent an online questionnaire to 1,291 Texas public school teachers who were randomly selected from Texas Education’s 2020 teacher roster. Agency in the State. All responded.

The Charles Butt Foundation is a nonprofit organization named after the president and CEO of HEB, Texas’ largest private employer. The foundation’s goal is to make public education more equitable across the state through community partnerships.

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Of those surveyed, 77% were seriously considering leaving the profession in 2022, a 19% jump from 2020 results and a 9% increase from last year. Of those teachers, 93% have taken steps to leave, such as preparing resumes or conducting job interviews in the past year.

“It’s a huge and startling number,” said Shari B. Albright, president of the Charles Butt Foundation. “We need our public schools to not only survive, but thrive and thrive.”

Victoria Wang, senior research associate at the foundation, warns that when teachers are not supported, that impact is felt elsewhere in a local school.

“Schools aren’t just a place where kids go and learn math and reading,” Wang said. “That’s where they learn to interact with each other. This is where they learn to be in community with each other.

These survey findings come as Texas is in the midst of a teacher shortage and school districts scramble to find creative ways to attract talent as the state and nation emerge from the global pandemic. of coronavirus. Some larger districts, such as Houston, have the ability to approve significant wage increases while some rural districts have moved to four-day weeks.

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A major indicator that points to a shortage now is the state’s attrition rate, which tracks the number of teachers who left the field in a given year. Since the 2011-12 school year, Texas’ attrition rate has hovered around 10%. That number fell to around 9% in the 2020-21 school year, but is rising again – rising to nearly 12% in the 2021-22 school year.

Teachers cite low salaries, lack of respect from the community and elected officials, excessive workloads and pandemic school disruption as reasons they want to leave. In the classroom, about 98% of respondents say they have to buy their own supplies, with the median cost being around $500. The average salary of teachers did not increase between 2010 and 2019; instead, it fell from $55,433 to $54,192, according to a University of Houston report released earlier this year.

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In the Charles Butt Foundation survey, 91% of teachers in Texas who said they felt unfairly paid earned less than $50,000 a year.

Last spring, Governor Greg Abbott asked the Texas Education Agency to create a task force to tackle the problem of teacher shortages. The working group has met twice so far, and school leaders and teachers have shared different strategies they use to attract and retain their workforce.

In 2019, Texas lawmakers imposed increases on teachers as part of an $11.6 billion overhaul of public school finances. The bill also included a merit increase system designed to help rural and poor school districts attract talent. In rare cases, the program rewards top-rated educators in Texas with big pay raises that can reach a six-figure salary.

These factors contribute to the decline in teacher morale. The results show that only 17% of teachers said they felt valued by Texans, and only 5% of survey respondents said they felt valued by elected officials.

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Lawmakers over the past two years have put more on teachers’ plates. Some teachers have been required to take a 60-120 hour reading course, known as reading academies, if they want to keep their jobs in 2023. And most have done so without pay in their spare time .

At the same time, teachers have felt pressure to raise standardized test scores to pre-pandemic levels, but this has not been an easy task as teachers’ workloads have increased as they have also spent more time to meet the social and emotional needs of students returning to school after the pandemic.

The survey results showed that 86% of teachers consider their non-teaching tasks and responsibilities to be barriers to being a good teacher. Of those surveyed, 82% said they lacked time to plan and 81% felt pressured to teach to score high on standardized tests.

Finally, teachers feel caught in the crossfire of the state’s culture wars, as school boards have focused more attention in some cities on book bans and the removal of more inclusive curriculum than on how to help. teachers and students to have a more productive year.

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In the survey, 97% of teachers said a positive work culture and environment would keep them in the profession longer. Only 51% say they currently work in this environment. Teachers would also like greater participation in decision-making at the school and district level. Only 16% of respondents said they now have a say in these decisions.

“I fear an exodus and it’s not inevitable,” Albright said. “The teachers told us what to do.”

Lauren Cook, the foundation’s senior strategist, said the future of the state and its workforce hangs in the balance if improvements aren’t made.

“It’s really up to the Legislative Assembly and those at the local decision-making level to listen,” Cook said. “We can’t be at a bigger turning point.”

Disclosure: HEB and the University of Houston have financially supported The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the journalism of the Tribune. Find a full list here.

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