Burnout, stress affecting most Maryland teachers, poll finds

Large class sizes, high levels of stress, exhausting burnout and staffing shortages are taking a toll on an overwhelming majority of teachers across Maryland, a poll has found.

The Maryland State Education Association said “a crisis with unmanageable workloads, attrition among peers, and failure to hire enough staff in all school positions” is so prevalent that educators are more likely to leave the profession or retire early.

A survey of 4,746 public school employees, including teachers, education support professionals and administrators, who are all members of the association, found:

  • 96% of educators say staff shortages are a serious or very serious concern;
  • 92% of educators say that their workload is a serious or very serious concern;
  • 91% of educators say burn out is a serious or very serious concern;
  • 60% of educators are more likely to leave the profession or retire earlier than they’d planned due to the pandemic.

“Too many students cannot get all the individual attention they need; the nurturing relationships that should develop between educators and students have less chance to form, and staffing shortages continue to grow,” the Maryland State Education Association said in a news release.

The poll also found:

  • 61% of educators said they would be somewhat or much more likely to stay in the profession if class sizes could be reduced;
  • 90% of educators said that having the ability to reduce class sizes would somewhat or greatly improve their working conditions.

Teachers’ unions are forbidden by state law to negotiate class size during contract negotiations, but the poll findings suggest “making class size bargainable could have a significant impact on educator retention and working conditions — as well as increased individual attention for students.”

HB 890, which is under consideration by the Maryland General Assembly, would no longer consider the issue of class size an off-limits subject during collective bargaining.

Cheryl Bost, president of the Maryland State Education Association, said her group is urging lawmakers to pass the legislation.

“The ability to negotiate on class size … can help us get a grip on unsustainable workloads and make sure our days center on what matters most: getting every student the individual attention they deserve,” said Bost.

Maryland is one of only nine states where class size is off-limits during collective bargaining, according to the association. The other states are Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

The Maryland State Education Association said the poll was conducted on its behalf, between Jan. 14 and Jan. 22, online by the National Education Association. It surveyed 4,746 public school employees who are all members of the MSEA and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.39 percentage points.

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Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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