The 3 states where teachers say respect for educators has fallen the most

There may not be a major exodus of teachers, but external pressures are weighing heavily on educators.

Pennsylvania, Florida, and Texas sit atop an undesirable list: Respect for teachers has dropped the most in those states, a survey finds. Between 70% and 80% of teachers there say there is less respect for the profession than there was prior to the pandemic, according to a poll by Teachers Pay Teachers, the website where educators can sell lesson plans and other resources to each other.

Overall, two-thirds of teachers said they feel less respected post-COVID, with the majority of those in the Southern U.S. Teachers out west, on the other hand, were least likely to report feeling a loss of respect.

Several factors are contributing to teachers’ sense of antagonism. Politicization and other forces coming from outside the classroom continue to be major pain points. In fact, politicians and parents are now putting the most pressure on teachers while district leadership and school boards were ranked as the lowest contributors to “a lot of stress,” the survey found.

And a whopping 90% of the 1,200 teachers polled reported that state and district curriculum restrictions had driven some of their fellow educators out of the profession. These laws convey the message that teachers are not trusted to make decisions about instruction, one respondent said.

And while more than half the teachers said they had a moderate level of autonomy in their classrooms, 40% reported having less control than they did two years. “As the difficulties of the last two school years linger, external pressures have compounded the stress on educators already dealing with burnout, concerns over school budget cuts, and short staffing,” the report says.

Where are the new teachers?

A lack of applicants for vacant teaching positions is the No. 1 reason superintendents now say they continue to face teacher and staff shortages. Nearly 85% of superintendents cited this problem in a back-to-school survey by AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

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But the news isn’t all bad: “While the educator shortage is real and problematic, the vacancy rates, in general, are not representative of a major exodus from the teaching and educator profession,” says the survey of more than 900 leaders. Here are more key stats the superintendents reported:

  • More than a quarter had more open positions this year than in 2021
  • Just 9% had fewer open positions than in 2021
  • About eight in 10 are facing teacher vacancy rates of 5% or less
  • 14% of leaders cited teacher vacancy rates of 6%-10%
  • About half the respondents said vacancy rates for non-instructional positions are 5% or less
  • Non-instructional vacancy rates are higher than teacher vacancy rates

Along with the lack of applicants, superintendents blamed turnover, desire for higher pay, educators leaving the profession or retiring, the politicization of education and burnout as the top reasons for the shortages.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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