Chicago, IL – Despite mounting national concerns about teachers leaving the classroom, a significant majority (83%) of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teachers intend to stay, according to a new report released today by Educators for Excellence–Chicago, a non-profit, non-partisan organization. However, real challenges persist that could impact teachers’ long-term satisfaction and willingness to remain in the profession. With 7 out of 10 Chicago teachers reporting that their students are further behind today than before the pandemic, significant investments are needed to adequately support both teachers and students.
“Voices from the Classroom – Chicago 2022” finds that Chicago teachers are struggling with the same staffing shortages prevalent across the country. Eighty-three percent of teachers say that shortages of special needs support staff is a problem in their school and 74% say that shortages of social-emotional support staff is a challenge. In addition to these gaps, 62% of teachers report being asked to use their preparation period to cover a class at least once a week.
“I’m as committed to my students and my school as I have ever been, but there are so many barriers to giving them the education and opportunities they deserve,” said Cory Cain, Dean of Instruction for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) at Pritzker College Prep. “Whether we’re talking about responding effectively to the very real trauma and mental health challenges facing our students, or being able to teach them in ways that are culturally responsive, there are major investments that need to be made if we’re going to recover from this pandemic.”
Seventy-three percent of CPS teachers say the mental health of their students is worse since before the pandemic and half report that violence in schools has increased since the pandemic began. And, beyond mental health and social-emotional concerns, teachers are also facing increased academic hurdles. Less than half (42%) of teachers believe their curriculum is well aligned with learning standards or accessible and engaging to learners (45%), according to the survey. Even more alarming, only one-quarter of CPS teachers report that their curricula includes high-quality formative assessments or that curricula are easy to adapt for hybrid learning (25%).
Appropriately responding to this increase in mental health concerns is critical to advancing student learning, as is providing resources and freedom to teach about issues of racial justice and equity. As the national debate on what should be taught in schools persists, CPS teachers overwhelmingly believe issues of race and racial history should be taught in K-12 schools. Ninety-eight percent of CPS teachers want to teach about the history and experience of Black Americans and 89% want to teach about systematic racism in America’s institutions and society.
“After the challenges of the last two years, teachers desperately need the support of their administrators and the district to avoid their own burnout and give students what they need,” said Evan Stone, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Educators for Excellence. “When you have teachers across the city who are not only stretched too thin, but also lacking the curricular resources they need to effectively close achievement gaps, it’s clear we must shift our priorities to increase the training, resources, and collaborative time we are providing our teachers.”
Even as federal relief dollars pour into the district, one-third of surveyed teachers report they have seen no meaningful change in their schools or classrooms from the increased funding. And as teachers vote for union leadership on Friday, May 20, half of survey respondents believe that current CTU leadership has been ineffective during the pandemic. These are clear indicators of the strained working conditions educators find themselves in.
Designed by teachers for teachers, “Voices from the Classroom - Chicago 2022” was conducted with a local sample of 110 full-time public school teachers in Chicago. The sample reflects Chicago district and charter public school teachers and aligns with key demographic variables of gender, race/ethnicity, age, and years of teaching experience. The poll was taken in January 2022 during the height of the Omicron variant breakout of COVID-19. While teachers designed this survey, Gotham Research Group helped ensure it was valid and reliable.
About Educators for Excellence
Founded by public school teachers, Educators for Excellence is a growing movement of more than 33,000 educators, united around a common set of values and principles for improving student learning and elevating the teaching profession. We work together to identify issues that impact our schools, create solutions to these challenges, and advocate for policies and programs that give all students access to a quality education.
For more information, please visit e4e.org.