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Nice Work If You Can Get it

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Here’s something you might not have sensed at your last staff-development meeting: According to an annual survey released last week by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, teacher job satisfaction is at a 20-year high. Specifically, “The Metlife Survey of the American Teacher: Expectations and Experiences” reports that 56 percent of 1,001 teachers surveyed this year said they are “very satisfied” with their careers, compared to just 40 percent in 1984. The finding comes as something of a surprise, considering reports in recent years citing teachers’ frustration with--among other things--mandated testing and lack of autonomy. Perhaps less surprisingly, the MetLife survey found that teachers’ job satisfaction is closely tied to their sense of professional standing. Teachers who reported being dissatisfied were more than twice as likely to say they feel their communities don’t treat them as professionals. The survey also reports—somewhat contradictorily—that one-quarter of the teachers polled plan to leave the profession within five years. Among the top reasons: unmet professional expectations (e.g., salary and benefits), lack of preparation, and lack of support from colleagues and principals.

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I am curious as to the correlation between the current satisfaction rating and the past rating when compared to the percentage of veteran teachers (those beyond the 5-year-professional mark. Were there more long-time teachers in the older survey? Since so many of the baby-boomers have retired and are retiring now, does that skew the "satisfaction" rating? Many of us in the profession who have taught 20+ years are seriously looking forward to retirement due to the unmet professional expectations, lack of support from administrators, and the NCLB mandates which have spurred on the Test Frenzy across the nation! I'm not convinced that there is a "very satisfied" rating unless that rating is skewed because of so many "new" teachers in the professional who will be gone within five years, but who make the analytical data "look" good to the media and public. Why not survey only those who have stayed well beyond the 5-year mark and see if the results are comparable.

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