And so it’s not just me and my peers feeling put-upon and less respect than ever. According to the well-publicized Met Life study of teacher morale in the USA, the majority of my peers feel what I have been feeling and venting in these blog posts for the past few years, namely:
- Teachers are less less satisfied with their jobs than they have been in many years
- Over a third of teachers don’t feel secure in their jobs
- About as many (29%) say they will be leaving the profession
- Two-thirds of teachers don’t feel they are fairly paid for their work
- Teachers recognize the losses to education that the economic times have wrought: higher class sizes, cut programs, and needier students
Nothing really surprising in this study, is there? But it is important for Americans to see that more and more of the people who are preparing the national future (in the form of the children who will assume power over our national welfare) are no longer feeling positive and able to put a happy face on what they see around them. This is serious stuff. Educators’ lack of optimism (hopeful aspiring) is bound to have a negative effect on the national mood, and for years to come.
In my own recent experience, when I witness belligerent short tempers and surliness in my high schoolers these days, I now suppose that at least some of it is not conditioned by normal teen hormones, but by a sense of despair and anger. They are aware of being part of a system in decline, one more interested in testing them than helping them. From adults other than teachers (their parents and older siblings?) they have learned that their economic prospects are not rosy, that in fact, their generation may have to be satisfied with less of an American Dream than their parents and grandparents had. Not much to be happy about there, is there?
How long will this decline in teacher morale persist? Well, how long will it be before our national economy stabilizes so that we can stop focusing on present crises and begin investing again in our futures? That long.