New survey finds educator satisfaction at an all-time low

Teacher job satisfaction has plummeted to its lowest level in 25 years, according to a new survey released last week.

Only 39 percent of teachers report being satisfied with their jobs, according to the annual Metlife Survey of the American Teacher. This figure has dropped 23 points since 2008, according to the survey.

Teachers reporting low levels of job satisfaction were more likely to be working in schools with shrinking budgets, few professional development opportunities and little time allotted for teacher collaboration.

“This news is disappointing but sadly, there are no surprises in these survey results,” National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel said. “Teacher job satisfaction will continue to free-fall as long as school budgets are slashed. Educators are doing everything they can to prepare their students to compete in the global economy, but the rug just keeps getting pulled out from under them.”

Teacher stress levels have sharply increased, with half of teachers reporting that they feel like they are under great stress several days per week, as opposed to just one-third in 1985. Pressure on educators — including teachers, support staff and administrators — is at unprecedented levels, and resources continue to be scarce. 

“Classrooms are already crammed with students, programs and services are being cut, and teachers are entering pink slip season — all while further budget cuts loom as a result of fiscal cliff inaction,” Van Roekel said. 

The survey results come as the nation prepares for budget “sequestration” — draconian cuts that are set to kick in on March 1. NEA members continue to warn against the potential impact of impending fiscal cliff cuts on public schools and the nation’s students.

“Of course educators are wringing their hands,” Van Roekel said. “We must find ways to raise teachers’ sense of personal fulfillment in their jobs through meaningful professional development, a sense of autonomy and professional responsibility, and most importantly, the ability to grow within the teaching profession if we are going to turn these numbers around.”

This year’s survey examines teacher and principal views on the challenges facing school leaders (both principals and teacher leaders). Responses were collected during October and November 2012 via in-depth telephone surveys with approximately 1,000 teachers and 500 principals in K-12 public schools.

To view the entire MetLife survey, go to www.metlife.com/teachersurvey.