A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

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How Miserable Are Teachers?

Survey says educators are 'unsatisfied' but job applicant numbers show otherwise

More teachers nationwide are unsatisfied with their jobs and more are likely to leave the profession, according to the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher.

The survey, which was released this month, reports that one of the “most dramatic findings” was that teachers have the lowest level of job satisfaction in more than two decades and there was a large increase in the number of teachers who are likely to leave the teaching profession.

However, the sheer number of applicants for teaching jobs in Michigan casts question on just how miserable a profession teaching can be.

For example, Davison Community Schools recently posted an opening for an elementary school teacher. Michelle Lee, director of public information for the district, said the district received 120 applications for the position.

Ionia Public Schools recently posted an opening for a high school math teacher. Ben Kirby, associate superintendent at the district, said the district received 28 applications for the job.

Last fall, Chippewa Valley posted 21 potential teaching positions and received 2,211 applications, said Diane Blain, spokeswoman for the district.

“If the teaching profession is so terrible, why are there dozens, hundreds and sometimes thousands of applications for each open position?” said Michael Van Beek, education policy director for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, in an email.

Van Beek also questions the effectiveness of teacher unions, which he says are responsible for the workplace conditions of teachers that led to such dissatisfaction.

“The fact that a large percentage of teachers say they are going to leave the profession within a certain number of years should be the fault of the unions,” Van Beek said. “They’re the ones that mandate all teachers get paid exactly the same (and for some of them, this means getting paid less than what they would otherwise) and the unions are the ones negotiating working conditions. If anything, this survey is a signal that the teachers unions are failing their members.”

For example, teachers’ contracts in Michigan base salaries on seniority and level of education.

The leads to situations like what happened in Troy Public Schools, where seven gym teachers earned more money than a biology teacher who was selected as a national teacher of the year.

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