The 2022-23 school year is starting up the country. Kids are heading back in the classroom. Parents are breathing a sigh of relief. And teachers are ready to quit. Yup — that’s right. With several years of turmoil behind them, caused by the pandemic, the political climate, and disrespect for their profession, some teachers are ready to not just quit their current teaching job but leave the profession all together.
In record-breaking numbers, 70% of Texas teachers expressed they were on the verge of quitting their position in education, according to a recent survey conducted by the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA).
The recent numbers are a 17% jump from when teachers were surveyed in 2018 when only 53% of teachers expressed their desire to quit (still not a great number at all, to be honest). With such eye-opening numbers, many wonder why teachers are ready to call it quits. Most educators sited pandemic stress, low pay, and lack of support from the state as their main pain points.
“Lingering stress from the pandemic is a factor, but it isn’t the only one. Inadequate pay, political attacks on educators and the failure of state leaders to protect the health and safety of students and school employees also have combined to drive down the morale of teachers to the lowest level in recent memory and endanger our public school system,” TSTA President Ovidia Molina said in the press release.
According to the survey, 94% of teachers said the effects of COVID-19 in the classroom increased the stress on their professional lives, and 84% said their workload and planning requirements increased.
“Many of these teachers will be missing from our classrooms this fall, and for others, it is only a matter of time,” Molina warned.
Low wages were also a contributing factor for teachers who said they were considering quitting the profession in the survey.
Four out of 10 teachers said they had side jobs during the school year to meet their families’ financial needs, even though over 75% of those with a side hustle believed their secondary jobs hurt the quality of their teaching, the TSTA press release stated.
With such staggering survey numbers, many would hope that the state of Texas would step in to support their public servants. However, that does not seem to be the case. 85% of teachers surveyed expressed that they didn’t believe state leaders and legislators had a positive opinion of teachers — a 5% increase from the year prior.
Texas teachers also felt that the general public did not hold teachers in high regard. The 2022 survey saw a 20% increase in this belief. The year prior, only 45% of teachers thought the general public did not care for teachers. This was “before COVID and before Gov. Greg Abbott and many lawmakers started attacking teachers over critical race theory and alleging ‘pornography’ in school libraries,” the survey noted.
“For political reasons, Gov. Abbott has been trying to drive a wedge between parents and teachers, and this has definitely hurt teachers and hurt their students as well. It threatens the future of public education in Texas,” Molina explained.
Texas teachers are not the only ones getting fed up. In Columbus, OH., The Columbus Education Association union (CEA) — which consists of over 4,000 teachers, nurses and other education professionals at the Columbus City Schools district — will strike for the first time in decades. "CEA is committed to bargaining for the safe and welcoming, properly maintained, and fully-resourced public schools Columbus students deserve,” the CEA said on Twitter.
The union cited learning conditions, including class sizes and functional heating and air conditioning in classrooms, adequate planning time, and full-time teachers for P.E., Art and Music classes were a few of the main concerns according to CEA’s notice of intent to strike.
The district, disappointed by the outcome of the vote, assures parents that the school year will start on time but classes will be online and led by substitute teachers, according to school district's website.
Columbus teachers are not the only ones ready to strike. A union representing about 2,000 School District of Philadelphia employees voted to authorize a strike. Will this trend continue as the school year progresses and teachers aren’t getting the support they need? Seems likely!