© 2024 88.9 KETR
Public Radio for Northeast Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Survey: Texas public school educators feeling burnout as districts face funding issues

Teacher Amanda Inay reads from a book to her class on the first day of school Monday, Aug. 14, 2023, Rufino Mendoza Elementary School in Fort Worth.
Yfat Yossifor
Teacher Amanda Inay reads from a book to her class on the first day of school Monday, Aug. 14, 2023, Rufino Mendoza Elementary School in Fort Worth.

Almost three-fourths of Texas public school employees have experienced burnout in the past year and about 69% have considered quitting, according to survey results released Tuesday by the Texas AFT, a union representing public school employees.

Around 3,200 respondents, consisting of K-12 teachers, higher education educators, and retired teachers, answered the survey distributed last month.

In the last year, school districts have dealt with budget deficits, enrollment shortfalls and layoffs, all while Gov. Greg Abbott has unsuccessfully pushed for a school voucher plan unpopular among public school supporters. The turnover rate for Texas teachers in the last school year was more than 21%, according to state data.

The March 5 primary election is next week and Zeph Capo, Texas AFT vice president, said 92% of K-12 members plan to vote — with public education being the driving issue for 95% of them.

“I'm optimistic that this state and its educators are equally motivated to turn out around these issues,” Capo said.

Capo referenced November’s proposition election, which saw 84% of voters approve Proposition 9, allowing for a cost-of-living adjustment for some retired teachers.

North Texas public schools have dealt with their share of struggles.

Last year, school districts in Tarrant, Dallas and Denton counties joined a lawsuit against Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath over a revised accountability system they said could sink district ratings.

Fort Worth ISD enrollment dropped 19% in fall 2023 compared to the same time during the 2016-2017 school year, according to reporting from the Fort Worth Report.

Both Fort Worth ISD and Keller ISD announced plans for staffing cuts this year due to enrollment and budget issues.

Meanwhile, school vouchers have been on the table during the legislative session and ensuing special sessions. The latest school voucher push tied to public school funding would have approved education savings accounts families could use to pay for private education.

Voucher opponents say it would take away public education funding. It could also be a blow to the local economy for rural areas in which school districts are a top employer.

Capo said the primary election could come down to the constituents in primarily rural, conservative Republican areas.

“If those constituents come out and vote and they send a loud and clear message to the governor that their communities are not for sale, then I think we will have had seen a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Got a tip? Email Megan Cardona at mcardona@kera.org.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you!

Copyright 2024 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Megan Cardona