A majority of Texas teachers are feeling burnt out, and many have considered leaving the profession, according to an annual survey from the Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers.

Public school employees said low salaries and excessive workloads were among their biggest concerns, the survey showed. Over 3,200 of the union’s 66,000 members were surveyed from Jan. 23-Feb. 13, months after Texas lawmakers declined to raise teacher salaries amid a fight over public subsidies for private education.

What you need to know

Three-quarters of surveyed K-12 employees said they experienced “burnout” in the past year, while 69% said they considered quitting their job.

In a video shared with reporters, Dallas ISD social studies teacher Tyler Reames said he has taught for 10 years and considered leaving “probably since year four or five.”

“The system is unresponsive to the needs of teachers, to the needs of students. ... I think that we're not preparing kids for the future, and we're honestly, in many cases, damaging them in the process,” Reames said. “It hurts me deeply, because this is a profession that I love—this is a calling, a meaningful way to give to society around me, and I feel like it's been stolen from me.”

Texas educators work an average of 50 hours per week, the Texas AFT found, and one-fifth of teachers said they worked a second job outside of their school district.

By the numbers

Over 13% of teachers left public education between fall 2021 and fall 2022, according to Texas Education Agency data. Texas AFT President Zeph Capo characterized this as a “record high” attrition rate as some school districts are cutting their budgets and struggling to fill job openings.

Capo emphasized that state lawmakers spent the majority of 2023 in Austin and passed a historic $321 billion budget.

“Not one damn dime of that money went into the pockets of our educators or to solutions that would keep them where they belong—in our classrooms, in our cafeterias and in our libraries,” Capo told reporters.

Cy-Fair ISD teacher Patrick Cooney said the state has not provided adequate resources for teachers.

“The main resource would be a better salary. A content teacher who feels valued is an immeasurable positive influence to all the students that teacher talks to, whether it's in the classroom, or in the hallway, or on the athletic field,” Cooney said in a video. “Teachers need to get paid more, period.”

More details

Over 82% of surveyed educators said they were concerned about gun violence on campus. Last year, Texas lawmakers passed a bill requiring that all public schools have at least one armed security officer on campus. The bill included $10 per student and $15,000 per campus in school safety funding, but many districts say it isn’t enough.

Legislators discussed several plans to increase school safety funding during special legislative sessions, but none passed amid high tensions within the Texas GOP.

Teachers were also asked about private school vouchers, a program that would give parents public money to pay for private education. Over three-quarters of teachers said they thought vouchers—a top priority of Gov. Greg Abbott—would negatively impact their public schools.

This figure included 87% of self-identified Democrats, 59% of Republicans and 82% of independents.