CYPRESS, Texas — Amid teacher shortages across the state, a new survey shows many of the current teachers are considering quitting the profession.
The Texas State Teachers Association surveyed 688 teachers and reports that 70% are seriously considering quitting within the year. The survey blames low morale, political attacks, the pandemic and years of state neglect.
“Lingering stress from the pandemic is a factor, but it isn’t the only one. Inadequate pay, political attacks on educators and the failure of state leaders to protect the health and safety of students and school employees also have combined to drive down the morale of teachers to the lowest level in recent memory and endanger our public school system,” TSTA President Ovidia Molina said. “Many of these teachers will be missing from our classrooms this fall, and for others, it is only a matter of time.”
The survey shows that 70% of teachers feel support from parents has decreased and 85% think state lawmakers have a negative view of teachers. Last year, a law was passed that aims to ban critical race theory, impacting how teachers can talk about current events. Several districts have also introduced book bans which educators report places more work on teachers and librarians.
Bryan Henry is a former teacher, and on Monday, was one of many Cy-Fair Independent School District parents who showed up to speak out at a board meeting. Most of them are worried about their children's education.
“It’s a fragile system and it’s under a lot of strain right now,” Henry said. “I’m concerned that at some point it’s just going to become too much. That the best teachers are going to leave and no one’s going to step up to replace them.”
School at Cy-Fair ISD starts Aug. 22. The last update from the district, which was provided about one week ago, showed that there were still 437 teacher positions available, although that number is likely lower now. An updated number is expected to be provided on Tuesday.
Censoring books was up for debate at Cy-Fair ISD's meeting.
“Exposing children inappropriately to sexual material at young ages is not censorship. It’s protection," one parent said.
Several other Houston area districts are also reporting teacher vacancies.
A 16-year former Houston ISD teacher said the politics around teaching was one of the reasons she left the classroom.
"I think when the critical race theory started ramping up. And I knew that these next 2 or 3 years were going to be difficult for teaching what I taught, government and political science," said former HISD teacher Jill Williams.
She said the pressure to teach under the current climate, combined with COVID-19 concerns and the emotional stress the job put on her led her to leave her career.
"Quitting public education was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done," Williams said.
To read the full survey, click here.