- In a survey of 4,632 California Teachers Association members conducted by Hart Research Associates, educators were more likely to describe their work negatively than in a positive manner. Asked to identify words that describe the work of teachers, 92% of respondents said “exhausting” described it “very well” or “somewhat well,” compared to 89% for “stressful,” 81% for “rewarding” and 79% for “fulfilling.”
- On top of that, teacher retention is likely to remain a concern in California, with four out of 10 surveyed educators indicating they’ve considered leaving the classroom. The top three factors causing teachers in the state to consider leaving are burnout (57%), political and ideological attacks (40%), as well as staff shortages and having too many responsibilities (32%).
- Among the California teachers surveyed, 76% said the top priority for state and local officials should be better pay for educators to address this retention concern. Additionally, respondents said leaders should focus on smaller class sizes (58%) and strengthening discipline policies for disruptive behavior (51%).
California teachers’ negative perceptions of their jobs and their sizable consideration of leaving the profession is a key indicator of fears that the teacher shortage exists and will only worsen — not just in California, but nationwide.
National surveys have found a general decrease in teachers’ confidence in the education profession, too. An August report by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a K-12 instructional technology provider, found 40% of the 1,200 survey respondents said they were confident in their profession in 2022, down 9 percentage points since 2020.
District leaders have also noticed that educator shortages have been driven by teacher turnovers, a desire for better pay, burnout and the politicization of the teaching profession, according to a September report by AASA, The School Superintendents Association. But more significantly, surveyed district leaders said the top reason for the ongoing educator shortage is the lack of job applicants.
The survey of California teachers found many teachers of color, particularly Black teachers, said they experienced discrimination and do not feel comfortable expressing themselves. A different study by RAND Corp. found 43% of those who reported harassment over policies about teaching race, racism or bias said their school did not foster “a sense of belonging for teachers of color.”
And as calls for better pay amplify among teacher union strikes and educator surveys, a recent analysis by the Economic Policy Institute found teachers’ weekly wages and total compensation worsened over time compared to college-educated professionals who didn’t teach. Public school teachers’ average weekly wages increased by only $29 from 1996 to 2021 when adjusted only for inflation, while the weekly wages of other college graduates rose by $445 in that same period.