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THE METLIFE SURVEY OF THE AMERICAN TEACHER: TEACHERS, PARENTS, AND THE ECONOMY: Teacher Job Satisfaction at Lowest Level in Two Decades, Survey Finds

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"Resolving the challenges of declining morale and money must be first order so that educators and schools can be focused on their most critical task: preparing students for college and a career in the twenty-first century."
metlife survey

Over the last two years, teacher job satisfaction has fallen by 15 percentage points and is now at the lowest level seen in more than two decades, according to the latest MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. This year’s survey, The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers, Parents, and the Economy, is the twenty-eighth in an annual series to give voice to those closest to the classroom and is the first large-scale national survey to fully reflect the effects of the economy on the teaching profession.

“The survey’s findings underscore that education is a shared responsibility, particularly in the face of financial challenges,” said Dennis White, vice president of corporate contributions for MetLife. “Economic prosperity will depend on a new generation well-prepared to learn for a lifetime in order to compete and collaborate in a global economy. MetLife is proud to add the valuable data in this report to the pool of information policymakers and education leaders can draw upon as they make their decisions.”

According to the report, teacher job satisfaction fell from 59 percent of teachers saying they are “very satisfied” with their careers in 2009-the last time the MetLife survey reported on this issue-to 44 percent, the lowest level since 1986.

Additionally, 29 percent of teachers reported that they are likely to leave teaching for another profession, compared to 17 percent in 2009. Teachers are also more than four times more likely than they were in 2006-the last time the question was asked-to say that they do not feel their job is secure (34 percent compared to 8 percent).

The report breaks out several questions based on teacher job satisfaction and finds that teachers with lower job satisfaction are more likely than those with higher job satisfaction to be in schools that have had teacher layoffs (49 percent to 37 percent) or a reduction of other school staff (66 percent versus 49 percent). Teachers with lower job satisfaction are also more likely to report that they have seen increases in average class size (70 percent to 53 percent).

On the other hand, teachers with higher job satisfaction are more likely to have experienced adequate opportunities for professional development, time to collaborate with other teachers, and more preparation and support for engaging parents effectively.

The report also finds that the effects of the economic downturn have been felt “widely and deeply” in education. Specifically, it finds that 76 percent of teachers said that their school’s budget decreased during the past year while 66 percent reported that their school laid off teachers or other staff. Finally, more than one-third reported that educational technology and learning materials have not been kept up to date.

“Resolving the challenges of declining morale and money must be first order so that educators and schools can be focused on their most critical task: preparing students for college and a career in the twenty-first century,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Across the country, states and schools are raising standards. We can hardly be surprised when teachers are discouraged by being asked to do more, but are given less to do it.”

Not surprisingly, the impact of the economic downturn did not stop at the school door. According to the survey, which also questioned parents and students, 72 percent of parents and 65 percent of students worry about their families not having enough money for the things they need. Additionally, 62 percent of parents and 54 percent of students worry about the parents losing or not being able to find a job.

The complete report is available at http://www.metlife.com/teachersurvey.

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