American Federation of Teachers: Educators Are at a Breaking Point
New Rand Corp. Report Finds About 2 in 3 Teachers Report Taking on Extra Responsibilities, Including Covering Classes or Instructing Additional Students, as a Result of Staff Shortages
AFT Teacher and School Staff Shortage Task Force to Issue Policy Recommendations on Shortages in July 2022
WASHINGTON—Today, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement on a new Rand Corp. report on the results of its State of the American Teacher and State of the American Principal Surveys, which found that teacher and principal stress was twice the rate of the general working public:
"Teaching has never been an easy job, but the added stress of the pandemic, ensuing shortages, safety issues and the injection of politics into our classrooms has done a real number on our educators. Politicians must invest less time banning books and more time working with educators to provide the time, tools and trust they need to stay in the profession. Teachers have told us that their dedication to working with students keeps them in their jobs, even though pandemic conditions and safety concerns have made teaching more challenging. Teaching conditions are what they find to be stressful. For many years, our public schools and the teachers working in them have been neglected by some of our elected officials, and we are officially at a breaking point.
“For those of us working in the field, we unfortunately saw this coming. At the AFT, we have taken action to address it by creating a task force on teacher and school staff shortages—made up of educators and school staff from across the country—to come up with solutions to this crisis. In the coming weeks, the task force will share its findings and provide solutions and recommendations on how best to recruit and retain teachers to meet our kids’ needs and make teaching a valued and sustainable profession.”
In its new report, “Restoring Teacher and Principal Well-Being Is an Essential Step for Rebuilding Schools,” the Rand Corp. found:
- About one-third of teachers and principals reported that they were likely to leave their current teaching or principal job by the end of the 2021–22 school year; this figure is up from about one-quarter of teachers and 15 percent of principals in January 2021.
- Teacher and principal stress is twice that of the general public. Well-being was especially poor among Hispanic/Latinx teachers, midcareer teachers, and female teachers and principals.
- Nearly half of the teachers said supporting students' academic learning was one of their main sources of job-related stress.
- Nearly half of principals of color and one-third of teachers of color experienced racial discrimination. Family members of students and fellow staff were often the source.
- Addressing the working conditions linked to poor well-being could improve educator retention. About one-third of teachers reported access to counseling, compared with about half of employed adults.
In December 2021, the AFT convened a new national task force to tackle the widespread educator and support staff shortages imperiling the future of public schools and public education. The task force includes more than 20 state and local AFT leaders drawn from affiliates covering key AFT constituencies around the country. In addition to virtual and in-person meetings of the task force members, the AFT held listening sessions with rank-and-file members around the country. The group will unveil a report at the AFT’s biennial convention in Boston this July.
This is the third year that the AFT has supported funding for the Rand Corp.’s State of the American Teacher survey.
To read the full report, visit: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA1108-4.html
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.