Thanks to all our teachers who took the time to participate in the DC Educator Survey.
The demands on educators are through the roof, and our teachers are in distress. EmpowerEd and WTU conducted a survey with over 600 DCPS and DC public charter school teacher responses across all wards, which shows that a staggering 81 % of educators say morale has worsened from previous years. 14 % say they are considering leaving their posts before the end of the school year, with another 18 % seriously considering leaving at the end of the year and 14 % saying they are somewhat seriously considering leaving. Only 23 % say they would definitely stay.
DC already has the highest teacher turnover rate in the country, with 25-30 % of educators leaving their schools yearly- compared to the urban average of 16-19 %. While many have pointed to figures showing DCPS keeping teachers they rate as “highly effective”, 57 % of the teachers who have left in the past seven years were rated either effective or highly effective. DC also lost more Black educators than any city in the country in the 10 years following the implementation of the IMPACT teacher evaluation system- which was found by a study commissioned by the District to be racially biased.
The number one ranked solution educators say would keep them in the classroom is flexible scheduling, with hundreds of educators noting in comments the overwhelming hours and impossible demands being put on teachers to make up for “learning loss”. Educators see their peers in other professions gaining additional job flexibility since the pandemic, but education has not innovated in the same ways. Many note working 10-12 hours and again on the weekend, feeling forced to choose between their profession and their commitment to family and their own well-being. One of the key things highlighted in our survey, is the demands on educators who are also parents- managing unsustainable hours. One educator said “I have a child and for most of her life I have been exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally because I typically work 65 - 75 hours a week (often giving up one to two full weekend days a month). She deserves better.” This sentiment was echoed across the survey.
Teachers also noted higher pay, less focus on standardized testing, more professional autonomy to do their jobs and additional classroom support as key shifts needed to retain them.
Importantly, educators made clear that they are leaving primarily due to city-wide and system-wide policies, not challenges working with students. 59 % identified city-wide and LEA-wide policies as the primary culprit, while only 14 % pointed to challenges working with students. (24 % blamed school level policies and only 4 % noted challenges with colleagues).
See the full results of the survey along with notable quotes from educators on morale, how the pandemic has changed their perception of teaching as a profession and what would keep them in the classroom!