70% of Texas teachers are on the verge of quitting, survey finds

Political attacks, pandemic, years of state neglect to blame for sinking morale

Students backpacks hang off the back of their chairs in an empty classroom at Blanco Vista Elementary School in San Marcos.

A vast majority of teachers in Texas say they are on the verge of quitting, according to a recent survey conducted by the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA).

Seventy percent of surveyed teachers said they were seriously considering leaving teaching altogether — the highest ever recorded number in the teacher moonlighting and morale survey.

When the survey was conducted in 2018, 53% of teachers said they were considering leaving the profession.

The survey has been tracking Texas teachers’ concerns for more than 40 years, according to a press release.

The most recent survey was conducted in the late spring and early summer and surveyed 688 members of the TSTA.

“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.

According to the survey, 94% of teachers said the coronavirus pandemic increased the stress on their professional lives and 84% said their workload and planning requirements increased.

“Many of these teachers will be missing from our classrooms this fall, and for others, it is only a matter of time,” Molina said.

Low pay was another motivating factor for survey respondents who said they were considering quitting the profession.

Four of every 10 teachers (41%) said they took extra jobs during the school year to meet their families’ financial needs, even though 79% of the moonlighters believed their additional jobs hurt the quality of their teaching, a press release states.

Those teachers said they would need at least a $12,000 pay raise to be able to quit their moonlighting job.

The average salary of the respondents was $59,000, more than $7,000 below the national average, while their take-home earnings continued to be eroded by rising health insurance premiums and classroom expenses for which they were not reimbursed, the survey found.

TSTA officials said the average increase in teachers’ annual salaries was $5,779 since 2018, including pay raises ordered by the Legislature in 2019.

However, much of that increase has been lost to annual health insurance premiums, which increased by an average of $2,136.

Teachers answering the survey also reported spending an average of $846 out of their own pockets during the past school year for classroom supplies. That was an increase of $108 over 2018, the press release states.

Teachers have been working for years with inadequate funding and a lack of respect from state leaders. It is time for these leaders to wake up to the crisis they are causing our public schools and put education over politics,” Molina said.

The study is normally conducted every two years but was not conducted in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Teachers surveyed were from all grade levels and represented urban, suburban and rural school districts. The average classroom experience for respondents is 16.4 years.

About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.