- Low salaries, stressful working conditions and long hours were the top reasons teachers said they are considering leaving their jobs, according to a RAND survey released Tuesday.
- Some 34% of teachers said their base salary was adequate, whereas 61% of working adults said the same, RAND found. On average, teachers who viewed their base salary as inadequate wanted a $17,000 raise in base pay.
- Teachers also reported working 53 hours per week on average during the school year, though nearly all said they were contracted to work 40 hours per week at most, according to RAND. In comparison, the average working adult said they clocked 46 hours on the job per week on average.
Despite increased efforts to hire more teachers of color nationwide, the RAND report said any gains made in diversifying the educator workforce “could be in jeopardy” due to Black teachers reporting they were more likely to consider leaving the profession than their White peers.
Specifically, Black teachers were more likely to cite low salaries as a top factor of job stress compared to White teachers — 35% versus 24%. When asked for a primary reason driving considerations to leave their jobs, 72% of Black teachers cited low salaries compared to 57% of White teachers.
RAND also found Black teachers’ base salaries are $4,700 less than non-Black teachers, with teaching experience and cost of living being key contributing factors.
Black and White teachers only saw slight differences (52% versus 50%) in reporting long work weeks as a driving factor when considering leaving their job, RAND found. But Black teachers reported working an average of 57.6 hours total per week, compared to White teachers reporting an average of 52.4 hours worked per week, the report said.
As the RAND survey points to low pay, poor working conditions and long hours as looming signs that educator shortages could worsen, an August report by university researchers found the number of estimated teacher vacancies jumped 51% between this year and last. However, that same report found teacher turnover is projected to plateau at 12% after reaching a peak of 14% during the 2021-22 school year.
While long hours and low pay may potentially drive teachers out of the profession, salary increases alone may not be enough to increase educator wellbeing or retention, RAND said. Districts should also take steps to improve working conditions and administrator support, the report added.
The average public school teacher’s salary grew by 2% in the 2021-22 school year and was projected to grow another 2.6% in 2022-23, according to an April report by the National Education Association. However, when adjusted for inflation, the average teacher salary decreased by 6.4%, or $3,644, in the last decade, NEA found.
A majority of adults also believe teachers are underpaid and undervalued, according to a recent PDK poll. In fact, 67% said they support increasing teacher salaries in their community by raising property taxes.