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Voices from the Classroom 2022: A Survey of Boston’s Educators

Why This Matters 

We spoke with 110 Boston K-12 educators across all grade levels and public school types from January to February 2022, a time of evolution in the City of Boston’s leadership. Two women of color have served as mayor of Boston since 2021, a position that had been held exclusively by white men since the city’s founding. Boston Public Schools (BPS) has had to grapple with the lingering COVID-19 pandemic while also trying to address a scathing district review released by the state. In a November 2021 vote, the overwhelming majority (78.7%) of Boston voters called for an elected school board to replace the currently appointed one. BPS enrollment has decreased significantly over the last several years, which will have serious budget implications for schools across the city. Additionally, former BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius announced her resignation in the spring of 2022 and her successor, Mary Skipper, took over this fall.

We want to thank our incredible group of Boston teachers who shaped this survey. Their insights into their classrooms were essential to ensure this report accurately represents the voices and experiences of teachers during this unparalleled time.

The Voices from the Classroom 2022 survey questionnaire was developed by 15 Educators for Excellence teacher members from across the United States. The instrument was written and administered by Gotham Research Group, an independent research firm, and conducted online from January 11 through February 14, 2022, among a sample of 110 full-time public school teachers in Boston. Note that all survey results are presented as percentages and, due to rounding, may not always add up to 100 percent.

Major Trends and Findings

  • From the CDC, to President Biden, to the surgeon general, the nation is in agreement that the pandemic has had an impact on the mental health of young people. Teachers in Boston agree and are seeing increased needs both academically and social-emotionally: 67 percent of teachers report that their students are further behind where they were before the pandemic, and 73 percent of BPS teachers say that the mental health of their students is worse than before the pandemic.

  • Only 16 percent of teachers said the district actively sought their input in developing plans for spending federal pandemic relief funds.They believe the funds should be spent on:

    1. Increasing the number of school psychologists and other health professionals (98%)

    2. Providing students with free universal, high speed internet access (97%), and

    3. Ensuring schools serving high populations of vulnerable students don’t see disproportionate budget cuts (97%)

  • Counter to the national narrative that teachers are planning to resign en masse, Voices from the Classroom - Boston shows that most teachers remain committed to staying in the classroom long-term: 73% of Boston teachers report they are likely to stay for their entire career.However, this is noticeably lower than the 86% of teachers nationally who reported they were likely to stay.

  • Boston teachers are struggling with the same staffing shortages prevalent across the country. Eighty-seven percent of teachers say that shortages of special needs support staff is a problem in their school and 85% say that shortages of social-emotional support staff is a challenge. In addition to these gaps, 87% of teachers report being asked to use their preparation period to cover a class at least once or twice a month.

  • Increasing starting salaries has long been noted as a clear way to increase teacher recruitment and retention; data from Voices from the Classroom - Boston confirms this to an extent. Despite BPS having one of the highest teacher salaries in the country, fifty-two percent of Boston teachers identified higher salaries as an effective method of retaining teachers. Twenty-nine percent said more supportive administrators were needed, 23 percent wanted to see more societal respect for the profession, and equal numbers (19% for each) wanted to see more time for collaboration and planning and more autonomy in the classroom.

  • A debate over whether schools should be a place to talk about controversial issues, especially about our nation's historical and current racial injustices, has captured the entire nation’s attention. Boston teachers overwhelmingly agree that school is the place for these conversations. They think the issues of race, racism, and the history of underrepresented populations should be taught in the classroom.

    1. The Civil War (96% yes)

    2. The history and experiences of Black Americans (95% yes)

    3. Racial inequality that exists in America today (85% yes)

  • While research shows that high-quality curriculum is key to student success, Boston teachers did not have positive opinions about their materials. Only 36 percent of Boston teachers believe their curriculum is culturally relevant for students, 39 percent say they have the curricular materials they need for instruction, and 44 percent say that curricula are high-quality and well aligned to learning standards.

National 2022 Teacher Survey

Voices from the Classroom 2022: A Survey of America’s Educators