Teachers’ views on their profession have become markedly more positive over the past quarter-century, according to a retrospective-survey report released earlier this year by MetLife, Inc.
The financial-service company’s 25th annual survey of educators found that the proportion of teachers saying they are “very satisfied” with their careers increased from 40 percent in 1984 to 62 percent in 2008, while more teachers today (66 percent) feel respected by society than their counterparts did back then (47 percent).
Perhaps more surprisingly, the percentage of teachers agreeing that they can earn a “decent salary” has nearly doubled since 1984, to 66 percent, and far more teachers today (75 percent, compared with 45 percent in 1984) say they would recommend a career in teaching to a young person. In addition, two-thirds of today’s teachers affirm that they were well prepared for the profession, compared with 46 percent in 1984. Teachers also feel better equipped now than in the past when it comes to addressing student-learning challenges such as poverty, limited English-language proficiency, and lack of parental support, according to the report.
Despite the generally postive findings, however, MetLife’s data also underscore persistent disparities among schools and mounting challenges facing the country’s public education system.
Teachers in urban schools, especially those with high concentrations of low-income students, are significantly less postive about their working conditions than their suburban counterparts, according to the survey.
Meanwhile, the percentage of teachers responding that limited English proficiency hinders learning for a quarter or more of their students has doubled since 1992, from 11 percent to 22 percent, with the level reaching 30 percent for urban teachers. In addition, nearly half of today’s teachers (up from 41 percent in 1992) say that poverty limits the day-to-day capabilities of at least a quarter of their students.
The number of teachers saying that students’ learning abilities in their classes are so varied that they can’t teach effectively has also risen, according to the report, from 39 percent in 1988 to 43 percent today.
A version of this article appeared in the October 01, 2009 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook