Teachers exiting the classroom, leaving education careers at alarming rate

SAN ANTONIO – Teachers in San Antonio and across Texas are feeling overwhelmed, overworked, underappreciated and leaving the classroom or strongly considering leaving their teaching careers, leading to what some education experts say could lead to an education crisis.

Luke Amphlett, a San Antonio ISD teacher, has been teaching for seven years. He loves his job, but after two rough years of teaching, he’s undecided on whether he’d like to stay.

“The ever-increasing workload, the frozen pay. Year after year is kind of an increasing level of stress that is making me and just about everybody I work with think about walking away and doing something else,” Amphlett said.

Paul Tapp, managing attorney for the Association of Texas Professional Educators, calls teachers’ exits in Texas a crisis.

“The biggest reason they’re leaving this year that we’ve seen is overwork and unmanageable expectations as to what they are going to do this year,” Tapp said.

Data analyzed by the Texas Tribune shows a 60 percent increase from 2021 to this school year in the number of teachers who are breaking their contracts and leaving their jobs before the end of the school year. School districts have made at least 471 contract abandonment reports to the state.

The State Board for Education Certification can suspend or revoke a teacher’s license if they leave without a reasonable excuse.

“It is, though, literally the most important profession that is out there because every other profession depends on that. You can’t have doctors without having teachers. You can’t have lawyers without having teachers. You can’t have reporters without having teachers,” Tapp said.

Tom Cummings with the San Antonio AFL-CIO Council said an ongoing survey of South San ISD and North East ISD teachers shows a large percentage of them are considering leaving the district. A large percentage are also considering leaving their teaching careers.

“Under these conditions, we feel this is terribly unfair. We feel teachers are under an extreme amount of stress and anxiety, and some just can’t take it. I know at least two teachers who have left because of panic attacks,” Cummings said.

Teachers have always been underpaid, but the stakes and expectations are higher following the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. The state mandates, additional training and other side factors that don’t relate to teaching add extra stressors.

“If done right, a teacher’s job can be done in an 8-hour day,” he said about the extra out of the classroom work teachers are being asked to add on to their day.

Amphlett has a few weeks left to decide if he will return as a teacher the following school year. But he says he believes, for most teachers, reducing their workload and getting a pay raise would undoubtedly convince them to stay.

“If you put some of those things together, you buy educators a little bit more time,” Amphlett said. “You reduce their workload a little bit, not in terms of teaching, but in terms of all the other mountains of things, paperwork and checking boxes that we’re asked to do, and then you give them a raise. Suddenly, this job is much more manageable.”


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About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.