DETROIT – A survey of 11,000 Michigan school employees reveals major concerns with the state's education system.
The survey, conducted by the American Federation of Teachers and the Michigan Department of Education, suggests widespread disappointment, demoralization and discontent for those who work in Michigan's public schools.
A top concern was stagnated wages.
The second biggest concern was too much standardized testing. Those surveyed said state mandates are doing more harm than good by forcing schools to focus on needless testing, thus hi-jacking teacher's curriculums.
Many of those surveyed believed an education crisis is in the making for the state of Michigan.
The survey highlights the following:
- 80 percent of school employees said they are under-compensated for the job they do. In fact, many said they take home several thousand dollars less per year compared to five years ago, often due to pay freezes and skyrocketing health care premiums and deductibles. A contributing factor is the 2011 law that mandates that districts cap health insurance costs, forcing employees to pay more out of pocket.
- More than half of school employees - 52 percent - said they didn't think they could comfortably retire; 36 percent said they just weren't sure, and only 12 percent have any confidence that they can retire comfortably.
- Their students take an average of four different standardized tests each year. Many teachers said "dozens," and for some, the number was so high that they could only make a ballpark guess. At least 40 answered simply, "Too many."
- A dismal 16 percent said they were well-supported in implementing new state educational standards and curricula; 43 percent said merely "average," while 40 percent gave the quality of their support a poor rating.
- Only 7 percent of teachers thought changes to the evaluation system over the past several years have had a positive impact on their teaching. In fact, 60 percent said these changes had a negative impact on their teaching.