The recently-released annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, which measures teachers’ level of satisfaction with their jobs, shows that only 44 percent of teachers are “very satisfied” with their jobs, compared to 59% in 2009. According to Education Week, the last time teacher satisfaction was this low was in 1989.
The survey only measures the satisfaction of public school teachers, whose job satisfaction may have a closer relationship to the struggling economy and widespread education funding cuts than teachers working in private or parochial schools. Teachers also expressed concerns about retaining their jobs, which is a legitimate concern in a profession that has seen many staffing cuts over the past few year — and 29% “say they are likely to leave the teaching profession within the next five years — up from 17% in 2009″ (EW)
School librarians are also on edge as their positions are re-evaluated to determine whether or not they are necessary for educating students. Some schools have eliminated librarians altogether, replacing them with lower-paid and less qualified library aides, despite studies linking full-time school librarians to higher student reading scores.
Additionally, only 35% of teachers feel that they are paid adequately for the work that they do. The average public school teacher makes about $40,000 per year — the starting salary for many professions, and a poor repayment for the long hours, stress and need for creativity and dedication that teaching requires.
The MetLife survey provides the general public (and policy makers) with a window into the heart of public education. Budget cuts, low salaries, increased standardized testing, and stringent teacher performance requirements have made it more and more difficult for teachers to do their job, and to enjoy doing it. And it seems obvious that if teachers aren’t happy, kids won’t get the education they deserve.