Austin – A new survey of Texas teachers conducted by Dr. John Pisciotta, Associate Professor of Economics at Baylor University and released by the Texas Public Policy Foundation indicates that the problem of teacher recruitment and retention in Texas will not be solved by addressing pay or benefits. When considering declining teacher morale, pay and benefits ranked third behind student attitudes and behavior and treatment by administrators respectively. Despite past increases in teacher compensation, the study cites a continued decline in teacher morale throughout the Texas public school system . The survey results underscore an overall loss of control in the classroom on the part of public school teachers compared to their private school counterparts.
The survey, Teacher Attitudes in Texas Public and Private Schools, was conducted among a statistically valid sample of experienced public and private high school teachers in Texas. Teachers were asked about topics including: school discipline, teacher morale, academic performance, parental involvement, and control over class content.
Other key findings include:
- More than 61% of public school teachers surveyed believed that teacher morale has either "somewhat" or "substantially" worsened, compared to 36% of private school teachers.
- Both public and private school teachers cited student attitudes and behavior as the number one reason for teacher morale problems. Treatment by administrators ranked second as the reason for poor morale among public school teachers, followed by insufficient financial compensation.
- Overall, public school teachers were almost twice as likely to provide a negative response about teacher morale, while private school teachers were twice as likely to provide a positive response.
- 35.6% of private school teachers stated that the trend of discipline programs was improving while nearly the same percentage of public school teachers saw their school discipline programs worsening.
- 30% of public school teachers saw student conflict increasing compared to 11% of private school teachers.
- Over half of private school teachers felt that they had very substantial control over class content, while just 26% of public school teachers felt the same.
- 42% of public school teachers rated parental involvement as "not supportive" or "slightly supportive," compared to 8% of private school teachers.
- A larger percentage of public school teachers saw a "substantial decline" or a "moderate decline" in student academic achievement compared to private school teachers.
- Public school teachers were, overall, less comfortable with having their child attend the school where they taught.
The survey results are timely given current discussions in the legislature about improving teacher compensation and health insurance.
"These results show that increases in salaries or benefits will not solve the shortage of teachers in Texas" stated Dr. Pisciotta, the author of the survey. "Trying to attract teachers with higher salaries without improving the school environments would be like trying to cut cloth using scissors with one sharp and one very dull blade."