Story at a glance

  • Pandemic stress has taken its toll on America’s teachers, and new research shows that many of them are considering leaving the profession.
  • Research conducted by Maryland based Education Week found that as of March, 54 percent of teachers polled indicated they have considered leaving the classroom in the next two years.
  • This number marks a 20-percent increase from surveys prior to the pandemic.

Pandemic stress has taken its toll on America's teachers, and new research shows that many of them are considering leaving the profession. 

Research conducted by Maryland-based Education Week found that as of March, 54 percent of teachers polled indicated they have considered leaving the classroom in the next two years. This number marks a 20-percent increase from surveys prior to the pandemic. 

Education Week evaluated the responses of 1,000 kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers and leaders and found that 84 percent said their work is more stressful than it was before the pandemic. 

But many teachers are left with no choice but to stay, notes Liana Loewus, the Education Week editor who oversaw the project, in the report's findings.

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"It's important to remember, though, that many teachers who say they're considering leaving won't actually do so," Loewus wrote. 

"Many teachers simply can't afford to lose their pay and benefits; some older teachers will decide they're close enough to a pension to hang on," Loewus added. 

The survey shows that teachers' primary reasons for staying in their role included retirement benefits, love for the craft and their students. More than 2 out of 5 teachers listed students as their main reason to stay

Increased salaries, too, would play a major role in keeping teachers in their classrooms, according to the survey, with 7 out of 10 school leaders listing a salary bump as the factor they believe is the most important to entice teachers. Yet "some states had to scrap planned salary increases when the pandemic hit," according to Loewus. 

"Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the report is that even while many teachers feel underappreciated and worn out, there are some concrete steps administrators can take to increase the odds they'll stay-but it all starts with listening," Loewus concluded. 

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Published on May 15, 2021