A new survey conducted by the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) suggested that 70% of teachers are on the verge of quitting the profession.
Researchers Robert Maninger and Casey Creghan of the School of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education at Sam Houston State University oversaw the study and polled 688 teachers in the state.
The study found that 70% of respondents were seriously considering leaving the profession. Respondents expressed various reasons for this including a decline in morale, perceived political attacks, and a lack of support from parents, political leaders, and school administrators.
The last time this poll was conducted in 2018 only 53% of Texas teachers stated that they were considering quitting.
“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,” said TSTA president Ovidia Molina.
A significant majority of respondents claimed that they lacked support from parents and felt that state legislators and leaders did not have a positive outlook on teachers.
Financial pressures are also making it hard for teachers to want to remain in the classroom. Inflation, rising healthcare costs, and out-of-pocket expenses for their classroom needs mean lower teacher take-home pay.
Survey participants said they spend an average out-of-pocket expense of $846 on classroom supplies, up more than $100 from the 2018 survey. Teachers do not get reimbursed for these purchases.
Despite such rising costs, the state legislature has not increased its share of insurance premiums for educators in 20 years. Four out of every 10 participants surveyed in the study stated they worked an additional job to meet their financial needs.
The survey results do not bode well for school districts across the state, especially since many have already been dealing with significant staffing shortages.
The scale of the shortage is becoming clearer as the summer break draws to a close. Big districts like Dallas ISD, Houston ISD, and Austin ISD are still looking to fill hundreds of vacancies before most campuses open up on Monday, August 15.
Dallas ISD officials claimed they are short roughly 200 educators.
As reported by The Dallas Express, Dallas ISD has been struggling to address its shortage by entering into a partnership with Teach For America and experimenting with various incentive schemes to attract new teachers and retain old ones.
The district boasted a 13.8% turnover rate for the 2020-2021 school year, but the rate actually does not reflect the real number of teachers who stopped working as educators at Dallas ISD schools. The turnover rate factors in new hires, making it unclear whether the district’s incentive schemes are working or not.
A persistent teacher shortage would surely exacerbate other problems the district is struggling with, like academic performance.
Dallas ISD’s STAAR scores for the 2020-2021 school year came in well below the statewide average. For all grades and all subjects, only 60% of Dallas ISD students were “approach[ing] grade level,” compared to 69% in the state.
Furthermore, a four-year longitudinal study following the graduating class of 2020 found that only 82.8% of the Dallas ISD students graduated high school on time, compared to a statewide rate of 90.3%.