Teacher Resignations Rise: Answers on Why
Teachers feeling overworked, underpaid and unappreciated. But money alone won't stop increases in resignations.
The teacher’s union president for more than a quarter century in northwest Louisiana, Jackie Lansdale, confirms a revealing new study applies to teachers locally, and their daily struggles, as well. “I want people to know that teachers want to teach their children. And they want to be there for them. Please recognize them and respect them and support them.”
As president of Red River United, Lansdale represents 3,000 teachers in the four parishes of Caddo, Bossier, Desoto and Red River. We reached out for Lansdale’s reaction to that Rand Corporation national survey released this week on the plight of public-school teachers in our country. The findings: Two-thirds of teachers describe feeling overworked, underpaid and often unappreciated. The teachers’ collective assessment shows a much higher level of dissatisfaction among teachers than other working adults, almost twice as much.
The Rand Corporation is a non-profit, non-partisan research institute and global think tank. Its survey reveals teachers work on average 53 hours a week, far higher than many other fields, with 15 of these hours uncontracted and uncompensated. According to the study, a pay raise is not enough to keep teachers in their jobs. Lansdale agrees and explains why. “Because they don’t feel supported. If you’ve got, you know, surveillance everywhere you go, if you feel like you’re being entrapped, if you feel like your voice is not being heard, you know, if you feel like you’re being treated less, as a human being, they leave. They just flat out leave.” In the last year, Louisiana has seen more teachers resign than at any time in the last decade. That’s according to a separate analysis of the teaching profession conducted by Chalkbeat, a non-profit educational news organization.
Lansdale talked a lot about the effective loss of teacher tenure, one of the casualties of educational reforms by former governor bobby Jindal back in 2012-2013. Until then, tenure could be achieved by a certified teacher with at least three years of satisfactory evaluations. “And that meant you were protected from the political whims out there. And that went on for a long time until we came along with Bobby Jindal, and he wanted to change all of that.”
Some educational reformers perceived teacher tenure as an obstacle to replacing ineffective teachers, and wanted to make tenure more performance-based, using student standardized testing results as the primary measurement. Lansdale is quick to point out that tenure is not gone, per se. But now it requires 5 to 6 years to qualify, and with more stringent requirements. That new standard, she says, effectively kills tenure because few teachers can or will wait that long. Lansdale fears even more teacher benefits may not be perfectly safe from future reforms, either. “We know why do [sic] people come and work. Two of the biggest things are insurance and retirement. And we know that right now we see challenges on both those fronts. So, we know that. We work hard on that.”
Lansdale emphasizes one message: She will be down in Baton Rouge to help improve the plight of teachers with proposed legislative bills when the next regular legislative session gets underway on Monday, March 11th, 2024.