What with being attacked left and right by politicians across the country, who can blame teachers for being more than a little unsatisfied with their jobs. According to the annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, the drop in teacher job satisfaction over the past two years is a whomping 15 points - from 59 percent in 2009 to just 44 percent in 2011.
Kevin Welner, a University of Colorado professor and director of the National Education Policy Center, attributes the plummet to the whole scale denigration of the teaching profession that is taking place in our nation. Writing in the Washington Post blog The Answer Sheet, Welner blames the rise of high-stakes testing and the resulting need to teach to the test as well as attacks on teacher's collective bargaining rights. It doesn't help that President Obama "is widely viewed as part of the problem" with his Race to the Top program and related policies that push testing and privatization, Welner writes.
"None of us would want to have our job performance judged on an outcome that we don’t really control. Research suggests that a student’s teacher for a single given school year influences as little as 5 to 10 percent of her or his test-score growth. Sensible policymaking does not leap from “teachers are important” to “teachers can be evaluated as if they are the only thing that’s important.”
Similarly, none of us would want to have our evaluation based on an outcome, like test scores, that we know represents only a fraction of what we do and why we do it. And we wouldn’t want to pursue a good evaluation by doing our job in ways we think unwise or even harmful.
But that's where teachers now find themselves. Maybe we should feel grateful that their job satisfaction only dropped 15 percentage points."