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Study: Tucson teachers chalk up job dissatisfaction to long hours, low pay
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Study: Tucson teachers chalk up job dissatisfaction to long hours, low pay

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A study of local teachers showed that nearly 30 percent don't think they'll be working in Southern Arizona classrooms five years from now, with 86 percent of those surveyed unlikely to recommend that others enter the professions, the nonprofit group Tucson Values Teachers said Thursday.

The group, set up by local business leaders to bolster support for education, received responses from about 1,600 local teachers in the Sept. 27-Oct. 14 survey.

Of those, 27 percent said "they are not likely to be teaching in this region five years from now," TVT's Teacher Workforce Study results said.

The educational profession is hardly the apple of their eye. "86 percent of all teachers surveyed are not at all likely or only somewhat likely to recommend their profession to others, severely influencing the attractiveness of the profession to future teachers," TVT said in a news release about the study.

Just 31 percent of Tucson teachers are satisfied with their jobs, the study results showed.

"Anecdotally, while we have always known that teachers work long hours for little salary and support, there has not been regional data available to back this up," Jacquelyn Jackson, TVT's executive director, said in the release. "This survey provides data that paints a true picture of life as a teacher and the challenges our community will face if we don't quickly find a way to attract teachers and keep our educators in the classroom."

According to the survey, teachers work an average of 60 hours per week on classroom and teaching-related activities. Teachers spend an additional 124 hours per year on classroom-related activities, including summer preparation and professional development.

Nearly one-third (32.1 percent) of teachers have an additional paying job outside the classroom, with the primary reason for a second job (94.2 percent) reported as personal financial necessity.

Teachers reported spending an average of $1,142 per year out of their own personal funds for professional development and on supplies for their classrooms and students, TVT said.

"Even more alarming, 33 percent pay more than 3 percent of their gross salary on classroom and student-related expenses. One teacher in 12 pays 7 percent or more of their gross salary to supplement their teaching and student classroom needs," the group said in the release.

Selected findings from the study:

  • While job satisfaction correlates to a teacher's likelihood to continue in and recommend their profession; approximately two-thirds of those who are very satisfied are hesitant about recommending their profession to others.
  • Older and more experienced teachers, those with a graduate degree and those in public schools are less likely than others to continue teaching in southern Arizona.
  • Approximately 35 percent of teachers who are from outside of Arizona are "not at all likely" to continue teaching in southern Arizona.
  • Of the teachers surveyed approximately 68 percent state that they are perceived by the community as "child care, probation officers and secretaries" rather than their self-perception of professions like nurses, social workers and psychiatrists or professionals like accountants, lawyers and doctors.
  • Less than half (44 percent) of teachers feel that they have adequate input into how they teach.
  • Only 14 percent of current teachers indicate that they are "very likely" to recommend the teaching profession in Southern Arizona, with 47 percent "somewhat likely;" nearly two out of every five teachers (39 percent) "not at all likely" to recommend teaching.
  • A majority of teachers cite the joy of teaching (71 percent), working with children (70 percent) and helping people (63 percent) as the three most likely reasons they originally became teachers.
  • In addition to basic school supplies, 36 percent of teachers spend their own money to support the basic needs of their students such as clothes, shoes and lunches.
  • Teachers spend on average $1,142 per year out of their own personal funds for professional development and to supply their classrooms and students with supplies.
  • One teacher in 12 pays 7 percent or more of their gross salary to supplement their teaching and student classroom needs.
  • Approximately 35 percent of teachers cite that they became teachers because they had a history of teachers in the family or knew other teachers.
  • The majority (58.3 percent) of teachers are dissatisfied with their salary and benefits.
  • Nearly one-third (32.1 percent) of all teachers have an additional paying job outside of the classroom. Of those who have a job, 94.2 percent state the need for additional income as the reason.
  • Even of those who are generally satisfied staying in the profession is questionable. Only 61 percent are "very likely" to continue teaching and 26 percent "very likely" to recommend it to others.

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