Mississippi Teachers' Survey Points To Positives & Concerns

BILOXI (WLOX) -- The survey says most Mississippi teachers are happy with their jobs.

"Three-quarters of Mississippi educators say their school is a good place to work and learn," said Survey Coordinator Eric Hirsch. "Eight out of ten say the school in which they work is safe. Educators in Mississippi are generally very positive about the conditions they go into every day when they teach."

While most teachers had positive impressions about their schools, many did raise some concerns. For instance, teachers say they don't have enough influence when it comes to budgeting and hiring decisions. They believe mentoring will help teachers remain in the classroom, but many new teachers aren't getting the guidance they need. And there's too much paperwork, but not enough time.

"Ultimately what teachers have said is, 'I need more time to work with my kids, to plan and collaborate,'" said Hirsch.

On Wednesday, thousands of teachers at the Mississippi Rising Summer Conference in Biloxi took part in another poll. This time, they shared their ideas on how to solve these problems.

"Think about your principal," Hirsch told the group. "What kinds of things do they need to know and be able to do?"

The Biloxi School District is already using the findings to improve the working climate for teachers.

"We actually did make suggestions about collaborative time, duty, tutoring, a lot of the things that made us unhappy and better utilize those things," said Biloxi Math Teacher Sondra Caillavet. "Just the fact that they took the time to explain to us, so we would better understand their position meant a whole lot to us as a faculty. And it tremendously increased our morale."

The goal of the Project Clear Voice survey is to keep qualified teachers happy, so they'll stay around longer to help students succeed.

"Almost 50 percent of the teachers who begin teaching leave within first five years," said Mississippi Education Superintendent Dr. Hank Bounds. "I think it's important that we look at those working conditions and make any type of adjustments that we can to stem that exodus."

Teachers also pointed out issues that influence their decision on whether they stay or leave their jobs, like effective leadership, professional development, and respect.