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Best gift for teachers on National Teacher Day? Their jobs

Five trends—including massive layoffs— provide portrait of nation’s public school teachers

WASHINGTON - May 03, 2010 -

To recognize National Teacher Day, May 4, and Teacher Appreciation Week, The National Education Association (NEA) released today five trends that paint a picture of the nation’s public school teachers. Four of the five top trends are exacerbated by state budget crises nationwide, with historically high number of layoffs topping the list of trends.

 “As educators continue to face layoffs across the country, we must remember what this means for our students and their futures,” said National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. “Massive class sizes, less attention to individual student needs, fewer services—all mean our children won’t receive the education they need. How can we give our children a world class education when teachers and other education personnel are in unemployment lines instead of in classrooms and schools?”

What threatens to overshadow every other trend this year is the devastating number of educators receiving layoff notices. The U.S. Department of Education reports that up to 300,000 teachers and support professionals will be out of a job this upcoming school year. In addition, school districts are having to close schools, cut education programs, as well as increase class sizes and shorten the school year or week.

According to NEA’s research department and other sources, today’s teachers are primarily white, female, married, religious, and on average are 42 years old. Five trends paint a picture of today’s teacher: 

Trend #1:  America’s public school teachers are facing massive layoffs.

§         Between 150,000 and 300,000 educators could lose their jobs according to the U.S. Department of Education and NEA.

§         In New York, 15,000 educators’ jobs are in jeopardy; In Illinois 9,000 educators have received layoff notices; In California, 26,000 educators have received their pink slips.

§         Nine out of 10 superintendents expect to lay off school personnel this fall.

Trend #2:  America’s public school teachers are the most educated, most experienced ever.

§         The majority of teachers hold one or more advanced degrees. Nearly half of all public school teachers (45 percent) hold at least a master’s degree.

§         They have many years of experience. The majority of the nation’s 3.2 elementary and secondary public school teachers have an average of 13 years of experience in the classroom. The average age is 42.

§         Public school teachers are highly skilled in the subjects they teach.  More than three out of every four public school teachers engages in professional development programs every year.

Trend #3:  Public school teachers’ classes, workloads and hours are increasing while their pay is not keeping up with inflation.

§         Teachers across the nation are continuing to lose spending power for themselves and their families as inflation continues to outpace teacher salaries last year in many states.

§         The national average public school teacher salary for 2007–2008 was $54,503.

§         In 2008, public school teachers spent an average of 52.8 hours weekly on all teaching duties.

§         Ninety-two (92.4%) percent of public school teachers spend, on average, $475 on classroom materials for their students.

Trend #4:  Public school teachers come to the profession, and remain dedicated to their careers, for their students and the importance of education.

§         Seven in 10 professionals enter teaching because of a desire to work with young people and nearly seven in 10 cite the same reason for remaining in their profession.

§         Significantly fewer than one in 10 enter or remain in teaching for financial award.

§         Approximately 30 percent of teachers leave the profession within the first five years of teaching.

Trend #5:  The teaching corps in public schools does not reflect the diversity of the student population.

§         Diversity of public school teachers is increasing slowly but is far outpaced by the numbers and steady growth in student diversity.

§         The percentage of non-white public school teachers has climbed to an all-time high of 16.9 percent.

§         The public school teaching force is made of up 76 percent women and 24 percent men.

 “Teachers are the nation’s heroes—they motivate and inspire young minds and enable students to achieve extraordinary things,” said NEA President Van Roekel.  “I want to thank all of America’s teachers, who work every day with students of every age, from pre-k through graduate school, for their hard work, enthusiasm, and commitment to making a real difference in students’ lives.”

NEA Research compiled the data provided in this report from NEA original research, along with that from other leading education experts. For more information on any of the information outlined in this news release, or to obtain original source material, contact NEA.

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About National Teacher Day

NEA celebrates National Teacher Day each year on Tuesday of the first full week of May.  The day celebrates the outstanding work and lifelong dedication of teachers nationwide.  This year’s theme is Great Teachers Make Great Public Schools.  The theme emphasizes the important role teachers play in making sure every child receives a quality public education.  Additionally, the theme celebrates teachers and underscores their importance in making great public schools a reality.  For more information on National Teacher Day, visit


The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser
(202) 822-7259,