HOUSTON — More than half of Texas educators said they've recently considered leaving their profession due to low pay, increasing workload, and safety concerns, according to a November survey by the Texas American Federation of Teachers.
The survey revealed the crisis in the classroom. Out of the 3,800 educators who were surveyed, about 66% said they considered leaving.
“The fact that two-thirds of educators are thinking about quitting is really frightening. In addition to long-neglected low wages and the stress of increasing workloads, the omicron surge has created unbelievable chaos,” Texas AFT President Zeph Capo said. “Educators witness every day the devastating effects on our students when schools have staffing shortages. It’s only going to get worse unless teachers’ concerns are addressed.”
When the teachers were asked what would make them stay in public education, 45% said they want pay incentives (retention bonus, pay raise), 35% said they want changes to workload (fewer responsibilities) and 8% said they want workplace safety improvements.
“Teachers need a livable salary that allows them to live in the same district they work in,” Capo said. "They need a saner workload that doesn’t make them sacrifice every evening and weekend with their families. And they strongly believe that we need fully funded schools, so they don’t have to spend $400 out of their pocket each year to stock their classrooms. And they want a safe working environment.”
Editor's note: The videos attached to this story are from a report from earlier this month about a nationwide survey in which 55% of teachers reportedly considered calling it quits.
A different survey, conducted in January, revealed that only 12% of teachers (2,500 respondents) said they felt safe on campus during the omicron surge.
Capo said teachers are paying out of their own pocket for N95 masks, bus drivers are covering two or three routes each day, and nurses are left alone with no help, spending 95% of their time testing students and staff for COVID or trying to do what contact tracing they can.
“They’re asking to be provided with N95 masks and rapid tests, to be able to take leave when they’re sick. This is basic stuff,” Capo said.
Texas AFT represents about 65,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel, and higher-education employees across the state. Texas AFT is affiliated with the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO.