Just 18% of Americans — less than one-fifth — would encourage a young person to become a K-12 teacher, according to a nationally representative survey released Thursday by NORC at the University of Chicago, a non-partisan research institution. Nearly half, or 44%, said they were not at all likely to encourage their child or another young person to enter the profession.
The survey’s 1,005 respondents cited inadequate pay, insufficient school resources, large workloads and stressful work environments as some of the top barriers deterring people from seeing education as a desirable field.
“This poll echoes the common challenges school districts have had in hiring and retaining teachers for decades,” said Jenny Seelig, research scientist at NORC at the University of Chicago. “Concerns about teachers’ physical safety at work and factors related to the pandemic echo challenges for work environments beyond teaching."
White respondents were less supportive of a career in teaching, at 47%, compared to 37% of respondents of color who said the same.
"In sum, the stress of teaching appears to be a deterrent from encouraging young people to pursue teaching as a career," Seelig said.
The survey results come as states are bolstering efforts to fill teacher pipelines by partnering with higher education institutions and increasing teacher pay. Recently, Milpitas Unified School District in the San Francisco Bay Area even put out a call to families asking them to rent rooms in their homes to educators as a recruitment and retention strategy for teachers who are otherwise unable to find housing in the area.
The U.S. Department of Education has also routinely encouraged states and district leaders to invest federal aid dollars to hire and expand the prospective pool of teachers.
Last week, the White House hosted a meeting on the issue with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, and teacher union leaders, among others.
“If we’re serious in addressing the teacher shortage issue, we must first address the teacher respect issue,” Cardona said. “And our students and educators need us to raise the bar to take bold, immediate actions to create sustainable change in education.”