TRENTON — A recent survey revealed that teachers have the lowest level of job satisfaction in more than two decades, an unintended consequence of recent budget cuts and other changes in schools, according to the New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA). Providing teachers with additional support, and elevating the profession to a high-value career, are necessary steps to improve the satisfaction score, according to the NJASA.
“If a business executive had to do his or her job without support from an administrative team, co-workers or management, it would likely be in a start-up business,” said Richard Bozza, Ed.D., executive director of the NJASA. “Schools are not start-ups, yet teachers are doing their jobs without a lot of support. At the same time, they’re worried about whether they’ll have a job next year.”
“With the recent widespread teacher layoffs,” he added, “there are many educators considering career changes as well—and others reconsidering whether to enter the field.”
Job security was one reason cited for lower satisfaction scores. The 28th annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher found that only 44 percent were “very satisfied” with their jobs, down from 59 percent just two years ago. In addition, there was an increase in the number of teachers considering leaving teaching for another profession and in the number of teachers who do not feel their jobs are secure. The 2012 survey was based on telephone interviews with 1,001 U.S. public school teachers.
“Teaching in the U.S. is unfortunately no longer a high-status occupation,” according to Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for Education and Special Advisor on Education Policy for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), as reported in the New York Times. “Despite the characterization of some that teaching is an easy job, with short hours and summers off, the fact is that successful, dedicated teachers in the U.S. work long hours for little pay and, in many cases, insufficient support from their leadership.”
There are many factors discouraging capable students from entering the teaching profession, according to the NJASA. These include low job security and low pay relative to that of other careers requiring commensurate education and training. In addition, the profession carries relatively low prestige.
“That leads to a need to elevate the profession of teaching in the same way that high-performing countries like Korea, Singapore and Finland currently do,” said Dr. Bozza. “The Department of Education is working toward this goal with the RESPECT Project. We support these efforts and others such as mentoring that help teachers develop themselves as professionals. We believe that will go a long way toward increasing teacher satisfaction scores.”
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