Last week, ND United released the results of our K-12 member survey and the results were astonishing. A whopping 74% of our members feel that teacher retention for the 2022-2023 school year will be a major issue. 53% percent of our members indicated that they have felt pressure to teach in a “less controversial manner.”
Only 41% of those surveyed expect to retire as a teacher when their career ends. Two years ago, 90% of them felt that they would retire as an educator after a long career. Among those between ages of 30 and 39, that number fell from 91% to 26%.
While many in the state were shocked to see and hear these findings, the results simply confirmed what I have been hearing for months from educators across North Dakota: Teachers are working harder than ever, under greater pressure than usual and, frankly, they are tired.
So much so that 53% say that they are unsatisfied professionally. Teachers and ESP deserve appreciation and respect for the work they do and right now, they are not feeling it. When asked, “As an educator, do you feel appreciated,” only 5% said yes while 40% said no. 55% percent responded with “sometimes yes, sometimes no.”
While it is true that job dissatisfaction is not a phenomenon exclusive to education, it is very worrisome to think that 44% of teachers are considering a change of professions. If that comes to pass, it will have an incredible impact on teaching and learning in North Dakota.
It is difficult to think of anything that we do that is more important than effectively educating the next generation of leaders and citizens in North Dakota.
The public and policy makers will ignore the results of this survey at their own peril. We have had evidence of teacher and staff shortages coming at us since well before the pandemic and now it is upon us. We can no longer kick this can down the road. Serious people are going to have to intervene and provide the necessary resources to operate our great public schools effectively and efficiently. Changes must be made to allow teachers the autonomy they need to create and deliver imaginative and engaging lessons that make children want to learn.
Finally, we have to quit scapegoating teachers for societies failures and do everything we can to restore the luster and prestige of the teaching profession. I have thoughts on that that I will share with you next week.
Finally, please know that you are appreciated. The last poll I saw on the matter showed that 89% of North Dakotans rated their schools as good or excellent. They feel that way because of you and the outstanding work you do in service to their children!
Until next week, stay safe, be well, and take very good care of yourselves.
Nick Archuleta, NDU President