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teacher satisfaction

Under sustained assault from politicians and pro-privatization billionaires, struggling with budget cuts and layoffs, and trying to teach increasing numbers of children who come to school hungry, American teachers are, unsurprisingly, growing demoralized. MetLife's Survey of the American Teacher, conducted last fall by Harris Interactive and including telephone interviews with 1,001 public school teachers, 1,086 parents of public school students, and 947 public school students, found that teacher satisfaction is at its lowest point since 1989, with just 44 percent reporting themselves to be very satisfied, and that the economy and economic inequality have a strong effect on schools, teachers and students.

The percentage of teachers saying they are very or fairly likely to leave the teaching profession within the next five years rose sharply between 2009 and 2011, from 17 percent to 29 percent. Unsurprisingly, teachers who report low job satisfaction are three times as likely to say they are likely to leave teaching. Among other non-surprises, teachers who feel their jobs are not secure are more likely to be dissatisfied—and the percentage of teachers who do not feel their jobs are secure has risen from 8 percent in 2006 to 34 percent today.

It's not just job security, though. Low job satisfaction is correlated with decreases in professional development opportunities and time to collaborate with other teachers, and increases in staff reassignments. These teachers are more likely to report having faced budget cuts in their schools, including reductions in health or social services and arts and music programming. They aren't just coping with school budget problems, either:

Teachers with low job satisfaction are more likely than those with high job satisfaction to report that there has been an increase in the number of students and families needing health and social support services (70% vs. 56%), in the number of students coming to school hungry (40% vs. 30%), and in the number of students leaving school during the year to go to another school (22% vs. 12%) in the past 12 months.
Correlation isn't causation, of course, but the correlation between teachers with low job satisfaction, schools with budget problems, and students coming to school hungry or needing health and social support services points strongly to the importance of the economy and inequality to educational outcomes.

Inequality raises its head on a regular basis throughout the survey: Teachers who aren't happy in their jobs are more likely to teach in urban schools and schools with more than two-thirds minority students, but not in schools with high proportions of low-income students or English Language Learners. Similarly, teachers in schools with more than two-thirds minority students are more likely to report layoffs and "reductions or eliminations of arts or music programs at their school," though not of physical education or foreign languages. And so on. Schools with high proportions of minority students, low income students, and ELL students face a crazy quilt of disadvantage, leaving teachers struggling to fill the gaps and, as a result, less satisfied with their work than teachers at schools with up-to-date educational materials and without the pressure of coping with service cuts and layoffs.

parent ratings of support

In contrast with campaigns by politicians and "reformers" to convince the public that teachers are lazy and overpaid and have excessively generous health care and pensions, the survey found that parents, on the whole, rate their children's teachers as effectively engaging them in their children's educations. Those rates decline as children move from elementary to middle to high school, but overall, 79 percent of parents say their children's teachers are excellent or good at engaging them. Additionally, strong majorities of parents feel that teachers' health care and retirement benefits are fair for the work they do (63 percent and 60 percent respectively); just 47 percent of parents say teacher salaries are fair for the work they do, but it's unclear whether they're saying salaries are too low or too high, and just 35 percent of teachers say their salaries are fair.

We already knew that budget cuts and inequality and poverty were terrible for educational outcomes. But this survey confirms, in a host of ways, that teachers and parents and students feel those effects, from their awareness of program cuts and layoffs to increased pessimism that student achievement will be better in five years among teachers and parents who report that their school's budget has been cut. Rather than cutting school budgets more and demonizing teachers more, the answer has to be to give teachers, parents and students alike reason for optimism.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Key conclusions (9+ / 0-)
    We already knew that budget cuts and inequality and poverty were terrible for educational outcomes. But this survey confirms, in a host of ways, that teachers and parents and students feel those effects, from their awareness of program cuts and layoffs to increased pessimism that student achievement will be better in five years among teachers and parents who report that their school's budget has been cut. Rather than cutting school budgets more and demonizing teachers more, the answer has to be to give teachers, parents and students alike reason for optimism.
    I agree with you 100%. I just wonder how long it will take for the usual troll patrol to get on this article and help demonize teachers even more.
    •  What I fear the most here (17+ / 0-)

      I'm not sure if all school districts across the country are seeing the austerity efforts in schools creating a situation where teachers and administrators are having to ante up their own money in order to have just basic materials for teaching.  That's the case where we live.  I fear that we will see an exodus of our most qualified, best teachers leaving the profession because of these cuts and because of much of what is covered in this diary.  Our kids deserve more...our educators deserve more.  Education is the key to any culture's success.  

      Budget cuts in law enforcement and other public safety professions...should be the LAST resort, instead of the first resort we've seen, at least in my locale.

      - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

      by r2did2 on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 06:14:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  part of the problem, I think, is a perception (7+ / 0-)

        by taxpayers that they already pay more than enough state taxes, but those taxes aren't allocated enough to education.  When school bonds are placed on the ballot, taxpayers say to themselves..." want me to pay this additional tax, earmarked just for the schools?  WTF are you spending all of the other tax money for?"

        I could be wrong...but that's my suspition.  I'd like to see some stats, nationwide, on what percentage of local school bonds get passed, and what % get defeated.

        "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

        by Keith930 on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 06:33:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's interesting to see which areas are supportive (0+ / 0-)

        of tax levies for school districts and which aren't.  I live in a suburb that has some of the highest property taxes in our state and a generally well funded and well run, and also ethnically diverse (50% non-white), public school system.  The area is also relatively politically liberal, though in a state that often goes "red." Many people in the community see the success of the local public school system as directly tied to our housing values since people tend to move this community for the schools.  Thus votes for school levies are generally successful.  But even within the community there are patterns to which neighborhoods tend to vote in favor of school levies and which don't.  The neighborhoods that lie in the middle of the income spread (i.e. not wealthy enough to send their kids to private schools, but still solidly middle class), where the homeowners and renters are socially connected, where the houses are built close together, where the parents are often involved in volunteering for the schools, and the local elementary school is within walking distance for everyone, have a pattern of being the most supportive of the school tax levies.  The neighborhoods that are more spread out, and where the elementary schools feel less like the center and focus of the neighborhood, tend to be less supportive of the school tax levies.  I'm not claiming that this pattern is necessarily applicable beyond the demographics of this particular community, but I think that there may be correlations between some of these elements and school-supportive voting habits more broadly.

        Nothing amuses me more than the easy manner with which everybody settles the abundance of those who have a great deal less than themselves. --Jane Austen

        by feeny on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:49:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  What I don't understand (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bkamr, bobtmn, mahakali overdrive

      is why satisfaction was so high between 1995 and 2009. Schools were being attacked left and right, test scores were being touted as the be all and end all of evaluation, etc.

      •  vet teacher retirements (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        A huge number of veteran teachers have retired since 2005, and new teachers don't have the support, mentoring, etc. that we had in the past.  They're thrown into the classroom and told to sink or swim.  When I began teaching many years ago, you were given time to get your feet on the ground professionally and that isn't the case for new teachers.   It makes for a very unhappy situation.  

      •  But teachers weren't being laid off (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and funding was generally such that if you needed a new service, you could probably find the money for it, in a generally expanding economy. Optimism that problems can be solved.

        Today they're taking pay cuts, losing their side resources, losing job security, have miniscule supply budgets, and are having to do a lot more work to be less successful than before.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Mon Mar 12, 2012 at 01:18:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Zombie teachers (0+ / 0-)

      on the move!

      Basement cat: their overlord !!

      Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

      by dadadata on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 08:25:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sad, but not surprising... (17+ / 0-)

    This supports what many of the teachers around me have been saying.

    I work at a school that is facing budget cuts, under pressure to get scores up, has a high population of students coming to school hungry, a high number of students needing social services (mental health, family services etc.)

    Our school hired a slew of new teachers this school year. And by "new" I mean new to the district or new to the school. Most of these "new" teachers have been teaching 7+ years and are what most would consider experienced. At last count, about half of those "new hires" (and a number of old staff as well) are considering leaving the school and transferring to a "safer" school or leaving the profession altogether.

    These are the teachers that schools should want to keep: young enough (most are in their 30s) to still be hungry and not set in their ways -- like they say some older teachers are (I'm not sure I buy that argument, but hey...) and experienced enough to have the "rookie mistakes" out of their systems.

    But we're not keeping them. We're chasing them away.

    How can you thank a man for giving you what's already yours? How then can you thank him for giving you only part of what's already yours? You haven't even made progress, if what's being given to you, you should have had already.

    by on second thought on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 06:16:47 AM PDT

    •  I think this study clearly showed ... (4+ / 0-)

      the obvious.  Wouldn't these conclusions be the same for any profession?

      "The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously." -- Hubert H. Humphrey

      by Candide08 on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 06:25:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Most other professions do not have (12+ / 0-)

        anti tax zealots, privatization vultures, and Republican politicians trying to drive down salaries by demonizing the professionals who are barely getting by on the low salaries they earn.

        “when Democrats don’t vote, Democrats don’t win.” Alan Grayson

        by ahumbleopinion on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:03:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As long as we are on that topic... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          most other professions do not have tenure and work far more than 180 days per year.

          "The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously." -- Hubert H. Humphrey

          by Candide08 on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 08:02:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  yeah, go back under your rock. (5+ / 0-)
          •  What reality do you live in? (8+ / 0-)

            180 fays per year on the books. You do realize that doesn't include curriculum building and homework assessment, plus a million other factors that go into "unpaid" categories.

            Tenure represents the most nominal pay raise where I live and is accompanied by requirements to do massive amounts of administrative and other community service work.

            You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

            by mahakali overdrive on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 09:15:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You are clueless (7+ / 0-)

            I invite you to spend a week with a teacher.  I bet you wouldn't last two days.

            I'm at school by 7:30 am and often don't leave until 5:30 pm.  I bring work home to grade 2 -3 nights per week. So I spend another 4-6 hours at home, working.

            In addition to my 55+ hour week, I also spend about 6-8 hours every Sunday grading and lesson planning.  

            During the work day there is no "down time".  A teacher has to be "on" every hour of every day.  I have about 5 minutes between classes.   IF no students hang out a little after class, or arrive early for class, I MIGHT have time to run to the bathroom before my 30 minute lunch break.

            Oh and lunch?  I often have students in my room for tutoring.

            I've worked in the private sector and I've been teaching high school for 4 years now.  This is by far the hardest job I've ever done.  When I was in the private sector, I had time to make phone calls, maybe zone out for 1/2 an hour at the computer, and I had time to check and reply to emails.  Not in teaching.  You do that stuff on your time--can't do it during class.  I work my butt off for those 197 days.  (I teach at a magnet school and my contract is for 10 extra days).  I'm also expected to attend a week or two of professional development during the summer.  

            With all that said, I LOVE my job and wouldn't go back to the easy life I had in the private sector.  I was bored to death in corporate America.  I work much harder, but I love the work I do now.   People like you who disparage teachers for the 2 months we are "not working" are speaking out of pure ignorance.

            So before you go mouthing off about something you know nothing about, I ask you to volunteer to help a teacher for a week.  See what we do.  See what our day is like.   Then you may comment on the "180 days" we work.  I guarantee you will change your attitude.

            •  See what you did here? You defensively ... (0+ / 0-)

              jumped to an incorrect conclusion.   As soon as anyone, like me, says anything that disagrees with established opinions that attacks start. See some of the posts above.

              Where is the reasoned discourse?  Where is the right to opinions and the right to disagree?  Why is there so much knee-jerk defensive reaction?

              I know quite a bit about teaching.  My father was a teacher for 30 years.   We had great summers off, not much curriculum building there.  My father was also president of the school board in a different district and many of my friends parents were teachers.  So I have quite a bit of direct knowledge about this.

              I also started college wanting to be a teacher, took about two years of educational major courses, but changed.  I think your comments say more about you and your attacking what YOU do not know that what they purport to actually say.

              Just about any other profession I know of has "unpaid" hours, so that is not different - just the base that teachers start from is just that much lower.

              I think it would be very good if the USA changed it's educational methods, for both teachers and students, and had year round teaching.  

              Let's look at the FACTS here.  Direct quote from my only other post:

              "most other professions do not have tenure and work far more than 180 days per year"

              Where is the disparagement?  Where is your and other reactionary posters reading comprehension?

              I stated two facts:
              1. Most other professions do not have tenure.  If this is wrong name one that does.

              2.  Most other professions work far more than 180 days per year.  

              While I did not say exactly that teachers ONLY worked 180 days, I can why you may have (incorrectly) inferred that I did.
              But the fact is still true - most professions work far more than 180 days per year.  Hey, maybe teachers do too - but nobody here took the time to read and understand.

              Your own comments do you more harm that anything I said.

              "The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously." -- Hubert H. Humphrey

              by Candide08 on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 04:24:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Oh, now the passive aggressive game (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mostel26, hatdog

                You know as well as anyone that teachers are under attack for "tenure" and "180 day" work years, among other things.

                If you wanted reasoned discourse, maybe something other than a glib comment packed full of right-wing attack points would have gotten you some.

                And I stand by what I said.  Come volunteer to work with a teacher for a week.  Then come post what you have learned and you might get the reasoned discourse you claim to want.

                Keep posting loaded, right-wing one liners and you'll continue to get what you get.

                And as far as the "harm" my comment has done to me...thank you for your "concern".

          •  Don't know much about teaching do you? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Psyche, Mostel26, on second thought

            My daughter often works 12 hour days and summers she has to take classes to keep her certification up to date.  She also works part time jobs because teacher salaries are so low.

            “when Democrats don’t vote, Democrats don’t win.” Alan Grayson

            by ahumbleopinion on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 11:31:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  It's just like how pilots are only paid (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            for the time they spend on an aircraft with the cabin doors closed.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Mon Mar 12, 2012 at 01:24:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  no, it isn't true of most other professions (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        are you being snide or are you just misinformed?

    •  As the parent of a second year teacher who (14+ / 0-)

      always wanted to be a teacher and who would be a great teacher, I can attest that she is already working on Plan B.  

      The pay is lower than she could earn in business.  The job she has was because the previous teacher left to earn more money due to having a second child and being unable to support a family on two teaching salaries (his wife was also a teacher, but in danger of having her job cut due to slashed state funding.)

      Salaries are frozen, no chance of a raise.  She already pays 10% of her salary into the retirement plan plus a sizable percent toward her health insurance. Class sizes are increasing.  Anti tax zealots poison public opinion against teachers.

      Fortunately she is a math teacher and will have other options, but she is exactly the kind of teacher that schools need, but Republicans refuse to pay for.

      “when Democrats don’t vote, Democrats don’t win.” Alan Grayson

      by ahumbleopinion on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:00:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This so called payroll tax cut (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bkamr, ladybug53, sandblaster, Psyche

        that Obama touts as a tax cut, does not apply to Texas teachers does not give give the payroll tax cut to teachers.  We don't pay SS we pay into teacher retirement.  I think many states have separate teacher retirement systems too.  I will get teacher retirement and SS at the same time however there is a offset, almost dollar for dollar with just a few dollars from SS to qualify for Medicare benefits of which I pay for just like anyone else.

        I am fortunate I have all of my SS quarters and qualify for some SS benefits upon retirement however teachers that have been teaching for 30+ years will not qualify for SS at all.  If I were military related I could double dip and get full SS benefits.

        •  Teachers in OH do not get social security (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and they pay 10% into the teacher retirement system.  They did not get any payroll tax break on what they pay.  They also do not collect a SS survivor benefit, so if I should die before my husband, who is a retired teacher, he will get nothing from SS.

          “when Democrats don’t vote, Democrats don’t win.” Alan Grayson

          by ahumbleopinion on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 11:28:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, Navy Vet Terp, semioticjim

    for the causation correlation reference.  So often people don't acknowledge these things.  

  •  Reformers (17+ / 0-)

    also bash teachers for using poverty as an "excuse" for poor teaching.  What reformers don't do is work for systemic change so children aren't coming to school hungry, or pressing for paid sick leave so older kids don't have to skip school to take care of younger siblings, when their parents can't miss work.

    Nor do reformers seem eager for real teacher training, or for realistic budgets (in NYC, the "unfunded mandates" placed on public schools just keep rising, while budgets are slashed). I'm starting to think that the "reformers' really don't care about all the kids who aren't getting a decent education (whether their parents say they are is really irrelevant, isn't it?), as long as they can pat themselves on the back for "rescuing" the chosen few.

    There ARE bad teachers, and bad principals, and bad schools.  And poverty shouldn't be used to excuse them.  But until our country treats education reform holistically, and until we give actual teachers the support they need, we won't get anywhere.  

  •  What do you expect from the scapegoating? (20+ / 0-)

    How exactly did it happen that Wall Street people and other bankers are off limit, and teachers are suddenly treated like the cause of the WHOLE recession and financial debacle?

    The most thankless job EVER. Where you have no power over kids (parents are watching...teachers only!), but get all the blame for their failures.

    One could NEVER offer me enough money to teach. EVER.

    There have rarely been a better case of scapegoating than this one. What is amazing is that a number of teachers are still satisfied at alll by their job...

  •  Yeah, morale is low. We feel beaten up, and (16+ / 0-)

    I've never seen public education under such attack.  

    The Republican majority in the Arizona legislature HATE public education and have signed the Grover Norquist pledge.  They purposely cut education more than necessary.  $1.04 billion in K-12, community colleges and university since 2008.  

    The results?

    24:1 in K and 1st
    29:1 in grades 2-5
    schools with no librarians or counselors
    capital funds frozen
    no $$ for school facility repairs

    Keep in mind that AZ has the 2nd highest child poverty rate in the US.  It's unconscionable what they've done here.  

    Remember, you can't have crazy without az.

    by Desert Rose on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 06:27:31 AM PDT

  •  The teachers brought it on themselves (14+ / 0-)

    Science teachers insist on teaching evolution and climate change and even have the audicity to claim that the earth isn't the center of the universe.

    History teachers have the audacity to claim that our ancestors mistreated Native Americans and blacks both as slaves and after the Civil War.

    Social Studies teachers have the audacity to claim that the Christianity is not the official religion of the United States.

    Besides, do you really want to tax the job creators?

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 06:29:52 AM PDT

  •  In Connecticut (11+ / 0-)

    CEA endorsed the current governor (Malloy) who is currently in the process of what is nothing less than a shakedown of teachers and our union. SB 24, the bill moving at rapid pace from the governor's desk, is an attempt to tie teacher evaluation to their certifications. ONE evaluator could essentially bring down a teacher's career and potentially that teacher could lose his/her certification. Additionally, he appointed a pro-charter school advocate as education commissioner. So they are setting the wheels in motion to upend the whole system based on the concern that we have a big achievement gap between the wealthy suburbs and the inner cities and poorer towns. Goes right to the heart of this excellent diary. As I wrote my state rep..."it's analogous to the doctor, who seeing a patient with a broken leg, chooses to amputate instead." This is what you get when corporate whores want a piece of this lucrative pie. Not sure if they know what they'll really get.

    "Live right. Think left." Gregory Peck

    by bookwoman on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 06:36:55 AM PDT

    •  I disagree with the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      laurnj, Psyche

      "corporate whores" part being applied generally.  It's deeper than that-- it's a bunch of privileged reformers who approached problems with public school education as "you screwed this up so badly and we're here to save you (heavy sigh)".  They DO want education to improve, but only by replacing one top-down infrastructure with another. By contrast, I know people in inner-city Queens who brought in a charter because they were so fed up with public education here-- and they're a far cry from the "reformers".  They felt they had no choice, since there wasn't anything they could do to get good teachers placed in their district, or any of the other support they need there. And yes, there are loads of bad teachers and principals in NYC, who probably shouldn't be in the profession (and bad teachers who could be great if we invested in them).

      That's a far cry from the Wall Street bunch who know that if we apply "business rules" to public education that it will all be swell-- and why aren't we grateful to them for swooping down and taking it out on the employees instead of on management? Some of them are in it for the money, but those I know seem to be in it for the ego gratification of being "right" (even when they aren't), which is why they disproportionately play up charter school, etc, successes and seem so willing to let other public schools fail.

  •  The conservative line of thought is............ (8+ / 0-)

    that if someone, outside the 1%,  is enjoying their life's work they are either (1) slacking off and not working hard enough or (2) being over paid.  I have finally reached the sad conclusion that a lot of what motivates people like the Koch brothers is more than simple greed.

    I think it comes down to, "What is the fun of being rich if other's are not made to suffer?"  There is a lot of evil in the 1%.

    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation--HDT

    by cazcee on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 06:43:56 AM PDT

  •  Though things seem to have reversed pretty well in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies

    very recent years, for a couple of decades the behavior of children in public places (such as that all - time winner , the grocery store) was phenomenally bad in the part of the country where I live (Alabama). Screeching , screaming , running , fighting , destructive , thieving little maniacs of all socioeconomic classes , skin colors , etc. , etc. made going shopping a chore. THose kids of high school age in fast food restaurants , Nazimarts and Kmart , other commercial facilities where they arrived with their own wheels instead with apparently deaf and blind Moms dragging younger siblings to the earlier mentioned places - holy shit. Just shopping with out of control maniacs was a chore. I could not have taught grammar school without a cattle prod and Mace , and high school , well , I don't see how a teacher could make it through their day without an M-16 with bayonet fixed.
         As each generation supposedly says - "WE weren't allowed to act that way!". Those youngsters of my kids' age were , in public , monsters , but those of my grandkids' age seem largely to be much better behaved. Maybe just pendulum. Maybe my generation of divorce - prone substance abusers (a stereotype that is only somewhat accurate) just couldn't be bothered. Somehow , someway the kids keep learing how to read , at least , and some group of dedicated professionals needs all the support we can give them for this miracle. Once had a bumper sticcker on the , well bumper of my old van - "If you think education is expensive , try ignorance".

    "think outside the box" ? - - there isn't a box. Just think.

    by Abra Crabcakeya on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 06:53:45 AM PDT

  •  Hey teachers and concerned parents..... (5+ / 0-)

    If you want to send the President a message with your concerns about his education policy boondoggle, sign this petition:

    Great diary Laura!!

    We cannot afford future failures of imagination...

    Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

    by semioticjim on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 06:57:56 AM PDT

  •  As a veteran teacher (15+ / 0-)

    I believe the days of 30 yr teachers are over. No matter what dedication and optimism one brings to the profession at the beginning, it is systematically beaten out of you. The widespread demonization and blatant disrespect of teachers, as well as the ignorant proclamations of those who haven't stepped in a classroom (as the head of the classroom, not as a student, of course), do more to demoralize teachers than anything else. Most teachers I have had the pleasure to work with are NOT afraid nor deterred by challenges of working with low income or minority students. But being expected to face those challenges with little support, little resources, larger class sizes and less compensation as well as a public just itching to say what a terrible job we do is beyond what even the most stalwart can take. Defunding poor performing schools and rerouting resources to charter schools or even vouchers, can't possibly improve those schools. The economic support being withdrawn from those communities can not possibly improve those schools.
    If we want sustainable economic growth or at least stability we need to think long term. One of the best investments is in education, most especially in our low income communities.

    Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools, because they have to say something. - Plato

    by eashep on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:01:19 AM PDT

    •  Sadly, I concur with that possibility. Two of the (4+ / 0-)

      most wonderful teachers in our building are choosing to retire, this year.  What an incredible loss this will be.  Both could have taught another 5 years and positively contributed to hundreds of students' lives.  

      Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

      by bkamr on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:16:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Amazing how people who (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      semioticjim, ggwoman55, Psyche

      have been students themselves (all of us?) believe that makes them experts on education.  Since we've been sick or had surgery, does that make us physicians?  Because we've all been children, do we know how to parent?

      And education is not just an investment in economic sustainability (which I strongly prefer to unsustainable growth), but I believe that there are studies done on the late 19th century that show as universal, public education spread, violence declined and people learned to treat each other better.  

      Education helped improve public health (hand washing, for example, and diet).  It has also given people the opportunity to know and appreciate diversity: cultural, religious, racial and other types.

      Schools give communities a focus, identity and way of coming and working together.

      Undoubtedly others could add much to this.

    •  No one will be ALLOWED to have a 30 yr career (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mahakali overdrive, ggwoman55, Psyche

      Just like in the private sector, you will have teachers fired a lot to save money. We already know from higher ed how this will play out; you will have lots of "itinerant" "part time" "3/4 time" and "temporary " teachers. How will you staff the schools you ask? by ditching certification standards and allowing anyone with a degree to teach.

  •  Well, a little while ago I wrote a diary entitled (13+ / 0-)

    Try running a science classroom on $2.87 per student per year.

    We just found out that there will be less, if ANY money at all, for classroom supplies/ materials.  Any and all money we have for materials will have to be diverted to buying the new math and reading books that are being mandated at the state level.  

    No money for science?
    No money for social studies?
    No money for the arts?
    No money for physical education?
    No money for the library?  (Fortunately, the Book Fair brings in some money for this area.)

    I got the email with the announcement, and I immediately put in for permission to do a fund raiser ... selling chocolate bars.  It's easy and the kids find the effort intrinsically motivating -- they become the most popular kids on their buses for a couple of weeks.  I'm sure that there will be those, here, who will decry my choice of fundraiser.  But, it will work, and this is what I plan on doing so we can have paper, chemicals, staples, pencils ... Plus, I will be paying even more into the "teacher tax," next year.

    And, hell yeah, it's depressing, frustrating, and de-moralizing, but a significant number of Americans seem to be so punch drunk on the hate-filled, mis-direction potion coming from Fox and the GOP propaganda that I simply do not know what else to do -- other than to just keep on trying to prop up my little corner of public education for the students and system I love -- and to hope that this country comes to its senses, someday.

    Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

    by bkamr on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:06:33 AM PDT

    •  I wonder how spending for special needs students (4+ / 0-)

      plays into all of this.  I've read that the population of special needs students over the past 2 decades has grown by more than 30%, while overall student population growth is around 15%

      As federal and state contributions decline, the cost increasingly is being shifted to the local districts/taxpayers.  There must be, it seems, a "competition" for resources between the special needs group and the non-special needs population.

      I don't have kids, so I don't follow it closely, but over the years I've read many anecdotal stories about how much just one severely disabled student can cost the school district.  

      I'm sure it's a contentious issue on both sides, but I wonder what the true fiscal picture looks like, and what impact, if any, the resource allocation has on overall spending per pupil.

      "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

      by Keith930 on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:17:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Money for the special ed students is mandated. (7+ / 0-)

        Yes, supporting students with illnesses, disabilities, and learning challenges can be very expensive.  For example, we have a student in our school who has to have a full-time nurse and must be transported to school by an ambulance, and the entire cost must be paid by the school district.  We have a student who has "lost" an $800 hearing aid device every year for 3 years, but the school district must pay for new ones.  (We think the student is actually throwing them away since it is a constant struggle to get the student to use the aid.)

        BUT, I'm not interested in having the debate be between having a classroom budget for science and having a hearing impaired student getting what they need to learn.  

        I want ALL of our children to come before unquestioned funding of the military industrial complex, the suicidal subsidizing of Big Oil, and the further enrichment of the 1%.

        Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

        by bkamr on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:27:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Goddamn Right (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53, laurnj, ggwoman55, Psyche

        Schools are under pressure to keep special ed numbers down, while parents are absolutely freaking out when their kids are below grade levels that may actually be too fucking high for a lot of kids. Let that sink in. Yo have teachers freakingout because a slow learner will make them look bad ( and principals too ) so they want them classified in order to get modifications on state tests. I am getting 5 new referrals a week. One member of my team is out sick. i am in shaky health. The young psychologist I work with is 200k in student loan debt and doesn't have TENURE so he can't complain, we can't keep up with this.  Plue 80 or so other kids on my caseload, some of whom need specialized schools. Parents are screaming at me, making demands, spouting their rights, demanding time consuming evaluations. I'm seriously ready to jump off a fucking cliff. I have had more referrals this year alone than I have in 10 fucking years. My supervisor's response is that she put in for another supervisor. WTF? Worse, the pols don't quite know how to use test scores to evaluate child study team members; but I know what it will be; it will be adherence to timelines and paperwork, the deathknell for any social the way I have a son with Asperger's and ADD and he gets by with no modifications at all. He forgets his homework, he gets a zero.  

  •  Not just public schools (12+ / 0-)

    I work at a private school and the pressure to 'market our product' is transforming it in unpleasant ways.  In the last 3 years a half dozen of our best, most experienced teachers have retired because they don't like the direction in which we are moving.  These are people who spent 30 years transforming students' lives (including one of my kids) who could teach for another 5 - 10 years, but are leaving because non-teachers are driving the agenda, just as in public school.

  •  An aside... (11+ / 0-)

    I loved this article!  It rang true to me, a 40 year public school teacher.

    Another interesting angle.  I noticed that while parents are quite satisfied with both their childrens' teachers and administrators, they are significantly more satisfied with the teachers.  And yet every education reform proposal would give administrators the power to evaluate teachers and fire them on the basis of these evaluations.  Isn't there something backwards about having less competent people being able to evaluate and fire more competent ones?  This certainly jibes with my teaching experience.  All this talk of "a talented teacher in every classroom" would result in worse, not better, teachers in the classrooms.

    "There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end they always fail. Always." -Gandhi

    by Grandma Susie on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:15:12 AM PDT

  •  Why was teacher satisfaction so high previously? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bkamr, Mostel26

    According to the graph that's the anomaly, not what we see today.  

    But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

    by Rich in PA on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:30:19 AM PDT

    •  As a 36 year veteran teacher (7+ / 0-)

      I would suggest that the years showing higher levels of satisfaction were years in which funding wasn't an issue.  In my large suburban DC district, those were the years when our district had the funds to significantly lower class sizes for at risk students, to increase the number of preschool programs, to increase job imbedded professional growth opportunities for teachers, to provide up to date technology for classrooms and to fully fund negotiated agreements.  Those measures enabled teachers to increase student performance.  Now, we see our salaries and benefits cut, our class sizes grow significantly, our technology become outdated and preschool programs cut--all the while we are under more pressure to boost test scores  or be fired if we don't.  This is an extreme culture change and it is damaging morale beyond belief.

      “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

      by musiclady on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 08:13:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would add (7+ / 0-)

        that budget cuts have added additional hours of unpaid overtime.  Last year I found myself putting in an extra hour to hour and a half everyday to get my job done.  This year I'm finding an additional hour added to my workload per day.  I'm putting in an additional 10 - 13 hours a week  in the last two years.  That's like working an extra 40 hours a month--all while being called a lazy slug by those in the press who buy the reformers' message.  

        “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

        by musiclady on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 08:17:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  class size reduction (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, laurnj

      I don't know about other states, but CA implemented class size reduction in 1996 - K-3 class sizes were reduced on average from 29 students to 20. Nine fewer students is a huge load off a teacher that allows them to give individualized attention to their students and manage small groups and project-based learning that isn't possible with the higher ratio.

  •  All you have to do is determine (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hatdog, ggwoman55, Psyche, RadGal70

    the style of social-engineering designed to promote population-characteristics best fitting the globalist agenda (behavior-based curriculum emphasizing the most fundamental work/employment-based knowledge, no art, no music etc.) and you’ll get the direction of education in the US.
    Multinational corporations own and control both major parties in the US. Money calls the shots. None of this will change anytime soon. The people will have to wake up, and the bipartisan political establishment is doing everything possible (i.e. public school curriculum designed to obstruct creative/critical thinking) to prevent the general population from waking up.

  •  Urrrgk. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    problem ...

    Don't space a time series on a graph equally if the intervals are more than a year in some cases.

    Label the years and set the tickmarks a year apart.

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 08:24:02 AM PDT

  •  THANK YOU WEA for Always Meeting Liars 1/2 way (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    regardless of how much further right the new 1/2 way is!

    Our Washington Democratic Party is about 2 inches removed from the hard core sell outs of the DLC New Dem Turd Way Yuppie Sell Out Elites of Rahm, Arne, Geithner, Summers, Lieberman ...

    (Rodney Tom in Washington, S-MicrosoftBoeing)

    And our Washington Education Association leaders insist on  behaving properly, like good little kids, so they can keep their seat at the political Kiddie Table, with their bibs, sippy cups, fresh diapers, sporks and mush.

    In the 3 / 4 years I've been participating in teacher's union stuff, I wish I had $100 for EVERY time we building representatives were asked to vote to approve, at the last minute, with little time for review, some Arne style Race To The Trash Blame The Teacher Band Aid.

    One of the KEY justifications for approving yet more blame-the-working-stiff garbage ...

    and you veterans of the Kerry / Gore / Clinton / Dukakis days will appreciate this --

    is cuz the other side is horrible

    is cuz the other side is mean

    is cuz the other side is going to lie

    is cuz we can protect ourselves from their lies !!

    Teachers are bummed out ...

    and our "Leaders" blame us serfs in the trenches for NOT clapping louder for the latest sell out!

    The NEA / WEA political banner should say

    "Cry Walker, and let slip the Fear of thugs..."


    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 08:42:16 AM PDT

  •  I can't even read the article (0+ / 0-)

    That first graph uses a non-linear temporal x-axis.  Whether intentional or not (I don't believe it was intentional) it distorts the data so much as to make it useless.

    This story appears to be about a correlation between political circumstance and the job satisfaction of educators.  That correlation, particularly on this site, tends to be rooted in which party controls the executive and legislative branches.

    The chart provides the following data point quantites by Presidential administration:

    Reagan: 5  (63% of term)
    Bush Sr. : 1  (25% of term)
    Clinton: 1  (13% of term)
    Bush Jr.: 4 (50% of term)
    Obama: 2 (67% of term to-date)

    I simply don't understand this representation of the data.   Not having all the data points is acceptable, but when showing trend lines you simply cannot change the slope willy-nilly.

    Shame really, I don't know what the conclusion of the article was because the graphic disqualified it from reading, but it is an issue near and dear to my heart.

  •  Why is MetLife surveying teachers? (0+ / 0-)

    Metlife is an insurance company, not a media or research company.   Why are they surveying teachers?  

    from their website

    MetLife, Inc. is a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs
    MetLife has a vested interest in maintaining and increasing benefit levels for teachers, because MetLife profits from it.

    Do they survey other professions?  If they do, how do results compare between Teachers and Architects, for example?

    The graph shows the % of teachers reporting that they are "very satisfied".  That is a very high standard.    Why don't the show the next level also?   I couldn't even find it in the PDF at the metlife site.  

    In a survey by , they found only 15% of all respondents reported they are "extremely satisfied".

    If we look at teachers view of themselves, I don't see that we get any useful information.

    Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

    by bobtmn on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 08:43:24 AM PDT

    •  correction (0+ / 0-)

      This should have said:

      If we look ONLY at teachers view of themselves, I don't see that we get any useful information.

      Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

      by bobtmn on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 08:46:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Interesting ... but the survey looks a bit bogus (0+ / 0-)

      Look at the 11 percentage point drop between 1985 and 1986. What happened in that one year to send the response rate down so sharply?

      Conversely, why the peak in 2008? I don't recall any great infusion of support (monetary or otherwise) into education during that year that would explain it--quite the reverse.

      We can understand that the severe budget cutting and continued rightwing attacks of the last few years have had a effect on teacher satisfaction. (Though the latter are nothing new, and privatization and the obsession with testing are trends over a decade old.)

      One suspects that the survey is quite flawed in its methodology, and should be treated as suggestive rather than as hard data.

  •  New to the profession (4+ / 0-)

    I joined the Peace Corps last year and my main duty is to teach.
    I had no experience teaching before, except on a one-on-one training basis. Classroom teaching is a new concept for me.

     Anyway, I'm gained a whole new appreciation and perspective on the profession.
       It isn't just show up and teach. You have to prepare for every class. You have to research for every class.
      And while the teaching can be rewarding, especially when you see the light bulb click on in a student's eyes, it is exhausting after a couple hours.

      In other words, it's a full-time job that has its own skill set.

    “Take not from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.” - President Thomas Jefferson

    by gjohnsit on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 09:03:10 AM PDT

  •  It's ok to spend more. (0+ / 0-)

    If we are going to evolve, we need to invest, and if need, go spend more on education.  We should do what ever it takes to spend, spend, spend on education.  Yes we should.  Should we go deeper into debt?  YES.  We can always work out debt, but we can't suddenly become educated.  Not that people want to talk about it, but people are really dumb, and getting out of High Schools with diplomas that aren't worth the paper they are written on.  

    We need to double down on education, not strip away funding.  It 's ok to spend more on education.  We have been surviving just fine with being in debt, it's actually manageable.  A few changes to the tax code, and reducing our military can address our debt if we were serious.  

    Many other countries invest in their children's education and we are falling behind.  We are too proud to admit we are failing, and stripping money from schools are probably going to make things worse, not better.

    Let's spend, spend, spend on education.  Even if we go deeper into debt.  

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 10:49:37 AM PDT

  •  On most days I love being in the classroom (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, semioticjim

    but some days it isn’t enough.

    I’m tired of calling homes and no one calls me back.

    I’m tired of reaching a parent and nothing is their kid’s fault and they (parent) have no time or interest to help (to even check to see if their kid did their homework).

    I’m tired of being told I’m supposed to find a way to raise the level of all 170 students when there is no tutoring for the students and many of these kids were pushed ahead into courses they aren’t ready for.

    I’m tired that I have to jump when any administrator gives an order, but when I need or my students need something I get ignored.  

    I’m tired that data is king and most of the data is wrong.

    I’m tired of being bashed on every channel, paper, website (even this one).  

    I’m tired of hearing about all the “bad” teachers.  Funny, I’ve been teaching 20+ years and I have met 4.  At the same time, most administrators couldn’t herd pet rocks.

    I’m tired of NOT hearing that parents should be responsible for their kids behavior and grades.

    I’m tired.

    But, I ain’t leaving.  I’m going to  fight and wait it  out.  Soon, they won’t be able to hire teachers because no one will want to be one.  Soon, the salaries will be unfrozen and there will be big raises to keep teachers teaching.

    I’m not happy with my job most days, but it will get better.  If not, this country will never recover and we will be a third world nation in a few decades.

  •  Has Obama failed our children? (0+ / 0-)

    It is discouraging that the failures this article points to have happened during Obama's administration. Even as he saddles those children with trillions of dollars of debt the government is failing to feed and educate them according to the article. Despite the school lunch program and breakfast programs, and food stamp programs millions of children are still coming to school hungry. We need a federal program to give every school child their own personal chef to ensure that some responsible adult cooks meals for them.

    •  health kids act (0+ / 0-)

      pushed by michelle obama?  

      Hello?  that is being enacted.

    •  Are you a troll? (0+ / 0-)

      Are you unaware what happened from 2001 to 2008? A slew of politicians went to sleep in Washington D.C. including the previous inhabitant of White House and President Obama didn't have anything to do with the mess he inherited...

      I may have my issues with the President regarding his education policies but I think most people who write comments on this blog know the President steered a careening economy onto the right pathway before it veered off a cliff...

      Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

      by semioticjim on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:05:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My comment directed at 4progresstruth... (0+ / 0-)

        Must be a troll....

        Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

        by semioticjim on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 07:12:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  No troll (0+ / 0-)

        I agree that Obama inherited an economy in crisis. However, I don't think that gives him a free pass. I would give our president an "A" for saving the auto industry, a "B" for financial regulation (good but not all that is needed), a "B-" for the stimulus (necessary but poorly targeted), a "C-" for a messy half-measure health care package that does not go far enough to provide coverage and utterly fails to control spiraling costs, a "D-" for his failed energy policy and an "F" for the unconscionably enormous structural deficits he has built into the federal budget going forward into perpetuity.

        I'm glad that Bush is gone and that McCain isn't president. And I'm VERY glad that Sarah Palin isn't a heartbeat from the presidency. It's great that we have a Democrat for president, I'm very proud that we elected a black man as president, and I think Obama is brilliant and a great role model with excellent character. However, I think he has been both timid and naive too often and I think he has been a bad manager too frequently to give him more than a "C" for an overall grade in his first term.

        Furthermore, I'm glad the Iraq war is essentially over but I think Obama should have ended it sooner and I think the war in Afghanistan should have ended many years ago and I am critical of Obama for continuing it. There is no doubt that he is ending the wars quicker than a Republican would do, but he is still not ending them fast enough in my opinion.

        I understand that the Republicans are obstructionist but so were we when Bush was president. That's what the "opposition party" does - it opposes the party in power. Furthermore, we had control of both houses of Congress for Obama's first 2 years and we still control the Senate so the obstructionist argument just sounds like whining. If Obama was a stronger leader he would be far more effective, in my opinion. Frankly, I cannot imagine Hillary being as weak a President had she been the victor in 2008. Like her husband she would have successfully triangulated and boxed in the Republicans to get most of what we want. Although I like Barack Obama I think Hillary Clinton would have been a better president.

        If you think that a progressive is a "troll" for not drinking the Kool Aid and expressing opinions that are not in lockstep with the Obama administration then that is your right. You may not agree with all of my opinions but it's sad that you resort to name-calling instead of rebutting opinions with a persuasive well-thought-out argument of your own.

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