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Study Recap: Listen To Your Teacher: An Analysis of Teacher Sentiment on the State of Public Education

Grow Schools

August 10, 2023

Listen To Your Teacher Study

A recent research study conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has shed light on the perspectives and challenges faced by teachers in the Pre-K–12 school settings of public charter and public district schools. The survey, conducted between May 10 and 30, 2023, involved 1,211 full-time educators.

Key Findings
Diverse Needs in Education

An overwhelming majority of public school teachers (97%) agree that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to education. The sentiment is even stronger among district teachers at 98%, and 89% of charter school teachers share this view.

Challenges and Support

Teachers expressed the need for greater support from school districts and the public. Virtually all public school teachers (99%) believe that changes are needed to recruit and retain educators, and 97% wish people understood the demanding nature of their profession. The study also notes that 78% of teachers view teaching as a “thankless job.”

Stuck in a “Culture War”

Teachers are actively engaged in political matters, yet they are resistant to the idea of politics infiltrating their classroom activities. A significant 91% of public school teachers express feeling caught in the middle of a “culture war,” suggesting that their role in education is becoming entangled in broader societal debates. This sentiment is consistent across different geographic locations and political affiliations.

Diversity and Teachers of Color

The study reveals that even though charter schools have a higher percentage of teachers and leaders from diverse backgrounds compared to district schools, there’s still significant room for improving diversity throughout the public education system. Racially matched teachers contribute to improved relationships, lower absenteeism, and reduced suspension rates among students. 96% of charter school teachers report feeling aligned with their current school’s culture in terms of values and beliefs about education. Only 75% of district school teachers feel this way, which the National Alliance feels may partly explain the difference between the two groups in terms of feeling motivated.

Call for Teacher-Centric Solutions

Teachers who participated in the study emphasized the importance of solutions tailored to teachers’ needs, as identified by teachers themselves, including providing better benefits and compensation (75%) and allowing more time for teaching (66%).

Student Well-being and Mental Health

A significant concern among the teachers surveyed is the decline in student mental health, with 84% of teachers acknowledging its impact. Many teachers are spending a considerable portion of their time addressing students’ mental and physical well-being, contributing to their challenging workload.

Teacher addresses the class
Student Behavior Issues and Safety Concerns

Behavioral problems have emerged as a significant challenge for teachers(74%). The study noted that there is continued aftermath from the pandemic’s disruption to routine and socialization, likely contributing to the rise in behavior issues. Teachers also expressed the need for better safety in schools (67%). When asked to identify education-related crises, 84% of teachers agreed that “being a teacher feels like it becomes less and less safe by the day.”

Motivation and Engagement

Charter school teachers appear more motivated and fulfilled compared to district teachers. The study suggests this might stem from differences in work environments, with charter schools offering more autonomy. The research underscores teachers’ desire for their voices to be heard and valued in decision-making processes that impact their profession and students’ lives.

Teacher Turnover and Retention

A significant percentage of both district (97%) and charter (88%) teachers express understanding about the reasons why fellow teachers leave the profession. Additionally, 39% of public school teachers have either seriously contemplated leaving their profession in the past or are actively considering or planning to do so by the year’s end. While 84% of public school teachers believe that improved compensation and benefits could enhance teacher motivation to remain in the field, the study suggests that additional forms of support may be required for the majority of educators who are primarily motivated by their ability to positively impact their students’ lives (59%).

Learn More

In the words of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, “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.” Read more and download the full study here: Listen to Your Teacher: An Analysis of Teacher Sentiment on the State of Public Education | National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

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