Teachers in metro Atlanta agree with report about teacher burnout

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 6:33 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Testing, mental health, and unrealistic expectations are some of the factors for Georgia teachers who have resigned and retired, according to a new report commissioned by the state department of education.

“This is our third week out and I’m just beginning to feel relaxed,” said metro Atlanta teacher Kathy Green.

She has found solace in bicycling this summer.

The 28-year veteran teacher would normally be working summer school but after the past few years of unprecedented challenges, that’s no longer the case.

“The pay was not a motivator for me to work, no they could not pay me enough for summer,” she told CBS46.

Green is not alone in citing mental health and pandemic pressures. In fact, she’s among the burnt-out Georgia teachers, says a report released last week by University of Georgia completed for the Georgia State Department of Education.

It confirmed a survey which found by the 2021, 31% of teachers said they would not remain in the profession.

For Green, she wouldn’t even recommend it to loved ones, right now.

“I do have two daughters and I encouraged them not to go into teaching, either one. And that’s really sad because teaching has been-- it’s been good to me.” Adding, “It allowed me as a single parent to raise them and participate in their education.”

Despite their love for the work hours and the students, similarly, Kimberly Pugh is burdened with burnout unlike ever before in her 24 years as an educator.

She chuckled, “I need a mental break as well, but I need the money more so here I am teaching during the summer.”

Student assessments, unrealistic expectations, coupled with fewer resources were just some of the factors the report identified.

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education sounded the alarm back in March, on the downward trend.

The group said there was a concerning decline in interest for the career.

Georgia State University told CBS46 a similar story through its latest enrollment numbers for the career.

Its undergraduate teacher preparation program had 297 students enrolled in Spring 2019, compared to the 238 in Spring 2022.

For graduate teacher preparation, 385 enrolled in Spring 2019 compared to the 257 in Spring 2022.

Ask Pugh, it’s about adjusting the dollars to make sense.

“You know that saying ‘less is more,’” she asked. “Not when it comes to a teacher’s salary. We want more. We need more. We deserve more money.”

It’s a solution the GaDOE agrees with. The report says action that’s being taken as result of the burnout includes bonuses, pay raise, and federal relief funding for more resources in the classroom.

“It’s not an easy profession, it’s tailor-made for people who have the heart,” Pugh added.