2020 EDUCATION ADV
Educator opinions differ on numerous issues
and vary from year to year. Professional
Educators of Tennessee surveyed its teachers
and solicited educator input across the state.
Nearly 750 educators took the survey sent out
to our members from Professional Educators
of Tennessee in October of 2019. While the
majority of respondents were classroom
teachers, several administrators also took
part in the survey.
Salary, school climate, and student behavior
have been constant issues during the last
four years. Researchers, policymakers,
and stakeholders can gain useful insight
into the opinions of those on the frontlines
educating children. The majority of educators
are satisfied with their jobs and believe their
job makes a positive difference in the lives
of students. However, two-thirds (67%) of
teachers stated that teacher morale was a
critical issue in their district.
Student behavior remains a significant issue
across the state. While there is a myriad
of issues that concerns educators, they
consistently rank discipline issues near the
top. The problem appears to be rooted in the
students’ home environment and the schools’
culture/climate; both must be considered
when addressing the problem.
A school and district must adopt policies that
support effective classroom management,
as well as instruction for all students. One
possible policy needs to be better tracking
of time that an educator has to spend on
discipline issues. Do parents have the right
to know, for example, if one student disrupts
their own child’s education so frequently that
instruction time is lost? School districts must
balance responsibilities toward the community
with the responsibility to nurture students.
Without discipline, students cannot learn.
Testing is an issue where educators offered
some valuable insight. Not only is the amount
of testing done by the district a concern, but
also tying teacher evaluation scores to the
testing data also remains controversial.
Salary issues provide an invaluable perception
of how educators view the financial reward
for their profession. Educators believe that
salary compensation should be equal to other
fields with the same degree. It is clear that
educators either reject or do not understand
what policymakers mean by a “differentiated
Well over two thirds (70%) of teacher’s support
across the board salary increases. We feel
that addressing salary issues should be a
primary concern for policymakers. Overall,
92% indicated that salary was an issue which
concerned them, followed by retirement and
healthcare. Educators were very interested in
student loan forgiveness incentives.
If the teacher shortages continue to be an
issue state-wide and nationwide, there must
be more incentives to go into the teaching field
and remain there. Obviously higher pay is the
biggest enticement, but also consider giving
educators the opportunity to job-share and
provide more appealing benefits especially
when it comes to health care and retirement.
And most importantly, treat educators as
professionals and trust them to do their jobs
without micromanaging that is currently the
Certainly, some educators have been forced
to leave their school system for subjective
reasons, rather than objective reasons.
Actions speak louder than words. In some
cases, dismissal may have been warranted,
but in many cases, it appears circumstances
were little more than personality conflicts and