In CTA’s recent survey of more than 4,600 educators statewide, these are the top four words teachers and other classroom educators chose to best describe what it’s like to teach right now.
I can feel those words. Those of you who have been classroom teachers can feel those words. We also remember some of the conditions that produced those feelings.
The survey, “Voices in the Classroom: Teaching in the Golden State” (conducted in partnership with UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools and Hart Research Associates focused on teacher retention and recruitment issues as the state struggles with severe teacher shortages.
While teachers find their work fulfilling, many urgently need more resources, pay, support and respect. Working conditions are a huge factor in teachers leaving the profession — workloads continue to increase and class sizes are still getting bigger, contributing to added stress and higher burnout.
As always, educators know what needs fixing and how to fix it. Survey respondents were clear in what state and local policymakers should prioritize now to attract and retain teachers. Nearly 90 percent said that better pay is the biggest factor in teacher retention. That is followed by better staffing and more manageable workloads; reducing class sizes; and stronger discipline policies and more student support programs, which included access to counselors and mental health professionals.
Our survey also sought to understand the role of diversity and inclusion in teacher retention and recruitment. Findings among teachers of color were significant and disheartening, and we cannot ignore them. We also looked at barriers to entering the profession, especially for aspiring teachers of color. Financial stress, student loans, excessive testing and bureaucracy add to the burdens of student teachers.
The teacher shortage is a crisis for our students and for all of us. We must come together to address it at all levels of our system, from the legislature to the classroom. The four priorities outlined by educators in our survey are clear and attainable.
With these issues in mind, the November election is right around the corner and more than ever, it’s important to elect candidates who are running to support public education.
“The four priorities outlined by educators in our survey are clear and attainable.”
We need to reelect Tony Thurmond as Superintendent of Public Instruction. Thurmond has a strong record of accomplishments, including substantial efforts to address the educator shortage. With Proposition 28, we have a chance to invest nearly $1 billion in new funding for arts and music programs, which have been critically neglected for too long and to the detriment of all California students. In our Election section, you can find all of CTA’s ballot recommendations, as well as endorsed CTA members running for local school boards.
This is my final year as CTA president. I remain excited for the future of public education and the incredible work we can accomplish together. It’s why we launched a new statewide organizing plan to help strengthen local CTA chapters. The CTA Organizing plan includes new tools and resources to support chapter and school site organizing as we all advocate for the quality public education our students deserve and for the respect and support every educator needs to do their job well. Rest assured that CTA will work tirelessly to provide the support and solutions you need to do your job and to be fulfilled in doing it.
E. Toby Boyd