For the better part of
three decades, MetLife has taken the pulse of American teachers. (We at Fordham
have offered summaries of  recent iterations of this work.) This latest check-up—which
diagnosed how the economic downturn has affected teachers and schools—yielded
some disturbing news. Since 2009, teacher satisfaction has dropped more than
fifteen percentage points; at 44 percent, it’s now at its lowest in two decades.
Though MetLife doesn’t look for causation, a few correlated (and
common-sensical) data points offer possible explanations: Low job satisfaction
is linked to feelings of job insecurity and experienced most commonly by
teachers in financially strapped schools. Moreover, teachers with low job
satisfaction are 21 percentage points less likely to feel that they are treated
as professionals by the community. (These trends persist regardless of
teachers’ demographic characteristics.) Worse still, teachers in schools that
have experienced budget cuts are less likely to be optimistic about improved
student achievement: Forty-six percent of those in schools experiencing cuts
don’t believe that student achievement will increase over the next five years,
compared to 35 percent of those in schools with steady or increasing budgets.
On a brighter note, parental involvement is strongly linked to educator
contentedness: Fifty-seven percent of teachers who cite high parent engagement
are happy in their jobs, compared with 25 percent of those whose parents are
minimally connected. These are but a few of the nuts cracked by this report
(which also surveys parents and students). It’s well-worth partaking of the
whole thing. 

Harris Interactive, "The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers,
Parents and the Economy
" (New York, NY: Metropolitan Life Insurance Company,
March 2012).

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