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Record-low morale among teachers, union’s survey finds


The number of educators dissatisfied with the profession has climbed significantly since the start of the pandemic, a July 11 report published by the American Federation of Teachers found.

In a national survey of 2,379 AFT members conducted by Hart Research Associates, 74 percent of educators — and 79 percent of teachers — reported being somewhat or very dissatisfied with conditions on the job, compared to 41 percent in 2020, according to the report, “Under Siege: The Outlook of AFT Members.” The survey took place from June 17 to 21.

Three-quarters of those polled said conditions in schools have changed for the worse, and cited increased workloads, student discipline issues and pay that doesn’t keep up with inflation as the main problems.

About 70 percent of the teachers and other educators surveyed believed that the 2021-2022 school year was “one of the worst,” while another quarter said it was “pretty average.” Many school districts across the country, including New York City’s, fully reopened for the first time last year after shifting to remote or hybrid learning because of coronavirus.

Covid and shootings top problems 

“AFT members were on the frontlines of the first wave of the pandemic, but in many ways the last year was even harder,” the AFT’s president, Randi Weingarten, said in a statement. “Whether it was mask wars, culture wars, the war on truth, or the devastation in Uvalde, members sacrificed and struggled and carried their schools and their students through the most difficult days of their lives. Students returned to campuses and classrooms with enormous needs, and educators shouldered countless additional responsibilities as they rallied to meet those needs.”

The AFT is the country’s second-largest teachers union, and represents 1.7 million teachers, paraprofessionals, higher-education faculty and health-care employees.

The country has been facing a teaching shortage, with burnout contributing to a half a million fewer educators since the start of the pandemic, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Forty percent of those polled said that they are “definitely” or “probably” planning to leave their job in the next two years. The vast majority said they would not recommend the profession.

Safety, particularly gun violence, is a major concern for educators, particularly after the school shooting deaths of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, in May. 

About two-thirds of teachers said that their school is not well-prepared for a mass-shooter, with nearly three-quarters saying that their school district has been doing a fair or poor job addressing gun violence.

But there was one bright spot in the report: half of the teachers surveyed said that they were “very well-represented” by their union, with another 23 percent indicating that they were “somewhat well-represented.”

“Our members see their union as the vehicle to fix the problems, enact the solutions, and definitively, defiantly and undeniably stand for hope,” Weingarten said.



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