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Union survey finds nearly one-third of MN teachers want to quit

By Elizabeth Shockman

Minnesota educators are stressed, overwhelmed, and worried — and 29 percent of them are considering quitting their jobs.

That’s according to a survey recently published by Education Minnesota, the state’s largest teacher union.

Denise Specht, the president of Education Minnesota, said low educator morale is the result of a pandemic that has forced the majority of the state’s students out of full-time in-person learning and virtually all educators to change the way they teach.

“They’re especially worried about their mental health and the mental health of students,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “That’s all about teaching and learning in a pandemic.”

The survey was sent to over 60,000 Minnesota teachers in late September and early October. The results reflect responses from 9,700 educators who responded.

“To hear that educators are thinking about quitting mid-year is pretty unique. We don’t hear that, especially at this time of the year,” Specht said.

The most stressful learning model for teachers, according to survey results, is either hybrid or multimodal learning, which can involve preparing lesson plans for both distance and in-person learning scenarios.

“[School districts] are requiring the staff that they have to take on double time,” Specht said.
“We have some educators who are not only responsible for teaching students in person, they’re also responsible for teaching students at a distance. The ability to hire enough staff is really contributing to workload issues and burnout.”

Teachers who are working in distance-learning models or full-time in-person models reported feeling less stressed. However, those who are teaching in in-person scenarios said they felt less safe.

Applications for teacher retirement benefits are also up by 35 percent in August and September 2020 compared to the same period last year. That’s according to information provided to Education Minnesota by the Teachers Retirement Association of Minnesota.

“We already have a teacher shortage in Minnesota,” Specht said. “I just don’t know how we’ll continue operating in this way if we have a lot of educators deciding, ‘I’ve had enough.’”