A majority of Texas public school teachers surveyed by Austin-based Charles Butt Foundation said mental well-being, pay and spending on education are their top concerns.

What happened

The foundation Sept. 6 released the findings from its 2023 Texas Teacher Poll in a report titled “Listening to the Educator Experience.”

Officials with the nonprofit said they hope responses to the survey, which was conducted March through June with more than 1,000 educators, will be used to inform policy on campus in Texas school districts statewide.

The background

According to the survey, teacher retention remains a pressing issue, and one key indicator of job retention is an employee’s mental and emotional health.

The survey states 94% of teachers identified poor pay and benefits, excessive workloads, long hours, and staff shortages as sources of stress. Additionally, 86% of teachers say they feel pressured to keep students safe, another source of stress.

Teacher pay is another major issue, surveyed teachers said, with 81% of educators describing their salary as unfair and 56% of teachers citing their pay level as a major source of stress.

The survey also states 86% of teachers identified helping students with mental health needs as a spending priority, adding that there is a need for more training, certified personnel and resources.

Dig deeper

According to the survey, 73% of responding educators said implementing a voucher program to allow parents to pay for a portion of tuition at private and religious schools would harm Texas public schools.

Additionally, 85% of teachers in the survey oppose implementing a voucher program in their community if it means cutting state funds allocated to their school system. Also, 80% of teachers oppose implementing a voucher program if participating private and religious schools do not have state educational oversight.

The poll featured other findings:

  • 75% of teachers are “seriously considering” leaving their profession.
  • 21% of teachers left their job as an educator, then returned.
  • 56% of teachers said a positive work culture and environment is a major retention factor.
  • 90% of teachers said it is vital for administrators to give them autonomy in the classroom, support them in handling student discipline, take their opinions into account when setting school policy, advocate for them in interactions with parents and the community, and provide adequate campus security.
  • 19% of teachers said they feel they lack adequate support from their campus to provide these elements of belonging for their students.
  • In terms of preparation, 74% of educators who had an assigned mentor said field experience was an important component of their preparation.