Photo: Twitter of National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
Photo: Twitter of National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

A National Alliance for Public Charter Schools poll on public school teachers says majority feel overwhelmed and burned out, among other findings

Released on Wed., Aug. 9, it’s an analysis of findings from a Harris Poll-commissioned survey of public school teachers from both charter and public schools.


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On Wednesday, August 9, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released a new analysis of findings from a Harris Poll-commissioned survey of 1,200 public school teachers that belonged to both charter and district public schools. 

“Listen to Your Teacher: An Analysis of Teacher Sentiment on the State of Public Education” gives a critical deep look into what teachers are currently thinking and experiencing in the public education system. 

The report was authored by NAPCS Senior Vice President, Debbie Veney. 

“The American public education system is in crisis mode, and teachers are arguably the most essential component of our education system. It’s hard to think of any solutions in education that don’t involve teachers, so it seems fitting to hear directly from them,” the report said. 

“Some may wonder why this organization, which is focused on charter schools, would be interested in the views of all public school teachers. The answer is simple: we felt that the challenges faced by district teachers and charter teachers were more similar than they were different, and that all public school teachers deserved to be heard.” 

The report also reveals the experiences of teachers in charter schools. Those specific public schools are meant to have greater flexibility and site-level autonomy and are usually smaller with a particular academic or cultural focus. 

“We wondered how these factors might impact the teaching experience. We expected there might be some differences, and the survey data proved our hunch to be true,” the report said. 

Some of findings include: 

- Teachers view their profession as a calling, and many began teaching to help their community. Still, teachers report feeling overwhelmed by the numerous roles they have to play. Our findings provide insight into what motivates and challenges teachers as well as the solutions available to improve the system. What should we take away from this sobering data? Teaching is hard work, but there are things we can do to make it less taxing and keep more educators in the classroom.

- The report explores similarities and differences among teachers in both types of public schools. There is near universal alignment on key issues, including the politicization of education. And there also seems to be something special about the experience of those who choose to teach in a charter school.

- Teachers are arguably the most essential component of our education system. It’s time we listened to them—and the Listen to Your Teacher report is a great place to start.

The study found that a majority of teachers don't want politics to infringe on their ability to teach effectively:

- 96% of teachers agree that public education needs more government funding, but fewer mandates 

- 94% say they just want to teach and 91% report that they feel like they have gotten caught in the crossfire of culture wars 

- Teachers overwhelmingly feel politicians and decision-makers should listen more to students, families, and teachers (97%)

- Nearly all public school teachers (97%) agree one size does not fit all when it comes to educating children, with district teachers being more likely to agree

- The majority of public school teachers, both district and charter, support public school choice, and believe it to be important to families and teachers alike

- Most teachers (63%) report feeling less motivated about being a teacher than when they initially entered the teaching profession, which may cause them to consider abandoning the profession.

In addition, a majority of teachers feel overwhelmed and burned out: 

- 74% of public school teachers cite student behavior and discipline issues as the top challenge they believe teachers currently face, followed by pay (65%)

- U.S. public school teachers say being a teacher in America in the past few years has made them feel overwhelmed (72%), burned out (67%), and worried/anxious (58%).

- Nearly all public school teachers (97%) say they wish people understood how demanding it is to be a teacher.

- Nearly two-fifths (39%) of public school teachers have either seriously considered leaving the profession in the past or are planning to do so by the end of the year

- Virtually all public school teachers (99%) report that something needs to change in public education in order to recruit and retain teachers. 

- A whopping 84% of district teachers disagree that the current public education system in this country encourages and motivates teachers, with nearly half (46%) strongly disagreeing. 


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