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Interpreting the Teacher Job Satisfaction Decline

Writing in The Huffington Post, Kevin Wilner, director of the National Education Policy Center, laments the MetLife Survey's finding that teacher job satisfaction has dropped precipitously over the past two years. He attributes the drop to a reckless media and policy environment that has assailed teachers' standing and values:

While this 15-point plummet is no doubt caused in part by the bad economy and budget cutting, it's also hard to overlook things like Waiting for Superman, the media deification of Michelle Rhee, and the publishing of flawed "scores" that purport to evaluate teachers based on students' test results ... Similarly, teachers see states and districts implement policies that largely base their performance evaluations on student test scores. These new policies are layered on top of No Child Left Behind and the subsequent years of narrowed curricula and teaching to the test. Teachers have been watching sadly as the sort of engaging learning that attracted them to the profession is increasingly squeezed out.

On the other hand, Rick Hess, in an interesting post decrying "one-size-fits-all" perspectives on the teaching profession, offers a less sympathetic interpretion:

I don't care that teacher morale is down in the aggregate. I would care if we knew that morale is lousy among teachers who are doing a good job and working hard. I want those teachers to feel valued, energized, enthusiastic, and all that. On the other hand, if a teacher is lousy or doing lousy work, they should have lousy morale. Hopefully it'll encourage them to leave sooner.

Your thoughts?

(Ed Note: The MetLife Foundation provides grant funding to Education Week Teacher to support the growth of interactive professional community among teachers.)

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