Survey: Two-thirds of Charleston teachers consider quitting

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 9:35 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 29, 2021 at 4:11 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Teachers are feeling more burnt out than ever, according to a new survey of educators in the Charleston County School District. The same survey found 83 percent of teachers in the district say they feel more exhausted this year than they did last year with another 66 percent admitting they considered or are considering quitting or making this their last year of teaching.

“I would say that over all these numbers are definitely more alarming than what we have seen in the past,” said Jody Stallings, a teacher at Moultrie Middle School and a director with the Charleston Teacher Alliance.

The survey was conducted by CTA polling 853 CCSD teachers between September 30 and October 12, 2021. CTA does several surveys like this throughout the year, however normally this one is done later in the year.

“We have been hearing anecdotally from a lot of teachers in different schools that they are under a lot of stress and facing a lot of challenges. They were just exhausted and thinking about quitting. It just felt like a lot more than usual,” Stallings said. “We do usually wait until the winter but if there are some things we can get fixed now, that’s going to be better for the kids in the long run.”

Among some of the key findings, only 21 percent of teachers feel CCSD values its teachers. While 68 percent say they feel supported by their principals, only 13 percent can say the same of the school board.

CTA took the findings of the surveys to the administration and the school board earlier this week. Stallings says he feels like they are listening and working on addressing the issues.

“They seem very pleased to have this data. They’ve always been very responsive to teachers. I think they realize that this district is about students but without teachers there’s no way to reach students,” Stallings said.

In a statement from CCSD, administrators say they’re not surprised by the survey findings.

“CCSD Board Chair Rev. Dr. Eric Mack and Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait met with members of the CTA leadership earlier this week to discuss the survey results and express appreciation for CTA’s efforts to convey teachers’ concerns,” reads a statement from the school district. “The survey results are consistent with feedback we have received this year from teachers, and we are committed to working on these concerns involving teachers to find ways to make positive changes for improvement.”

The report identifies three main problems that CTA says should be addressed before next semester.

  • Teachers are not given enough time to properly plan for daily instruction or the new curriculum and programs introduced at the beginning of the year
  • Discipline is not being taken seriously and disruptive students are being allowed to remain in classes.
  • Too may required tests are taking up valuable instruction time.

The stress of teaching students in person and while in quarantine has created even more issues than last year according to Stallings, who says there isn’t a sense of unity like there was a year ago.

“Last year was a very collaborative year. There was this spirit of . . . this is a difficult situation. We are all in this together and let’s all work together – parents, student, teachers, administration,” Stallings said. “This year it was like we’ve been at sword points from the beginning.”

The district has made an effort to address some of these concerns already. Earlier this week, officials said they would no longer allow zoom links to be sent out to elementary school student in quarantine – taking some of that stress off of teachers who were teaching in person and through a live stream.

The survey also contained comments from teachers on topics ranging from the mask mandate to unnecessary meetings to burn out.

“After this year I plan on switching careers. This is not sustainable as a job in this environment right now if I want to have good mental health,” wrote one teacher.

You can read all of the comments and review the data for yourself here.

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