More teachers forced into extra jobs

Four of every 10 Texas teachers moonlight during the school year to make ends meet, and 56 percent take extra jobs during the summer, according to a survey by Sam Houston State University commissioned by the Texas State Teachers Association. Results of the survey were released July 20, 2010.

The 40.8 percent of respondents who said they held second jobs during the current school year was the highest percentage since TSTA first started sponsoring the biennial survey, “Texas Teachers, Moonlighting and Morale,” 30 years ago. It was a significant jump from the 28 percent who reported moonlighting in 2008 and the 22 percent who reported having extra jobs when the first survey was conducted in 1980. 

“It is a shame that so many of our dedicated educators have to struggle with extra jobs to support their families, but they have no choice,” said TSTA President Rita Haecker. “They are to be commended for going the extra mile each day for their students and their families. It is past time for our elected state officials to give these professionals the professional pay that they deserve.” 

Almost half of the respondents (46.7 percent) said they were seriously considering leaving the profession, but the fact that 58.6 percent also were their family’s major breadwinners made that prospect difficult for many teachers. 

The online survey of 907 teachers was conducted this spring by faculty members at Sam Houston State University. 

The average number of hours, 15.2 percent, that teachers spent on extra jobs each week during the school year also was the highest amount recorded for the survey, as was the 56.4 percent of teachers who took summer jobs. In 2008, the average number of hours spent moonlighting each week during the school year was 11.5, and 34 percent of respondents reported summer jobs.

Some 68.6 percent of the moonlighting teachers believe their teaching quality would improve if they didn’t have extra jobs but said they couldn’t afford to give up the additional income without a raise in their teacher pay. Most (63.2 percent) said they would quit their second jobs during the school year if their teaching jobs paid more. On average, they said that would require a raise of $8,534 a year. 

The average salary of teachers responding to the survey was $50,019 a year. Their average classroom experience was 17.7 years. 

Overall, the average teacher salary in Texas, according to data for the 2008-09 school year, the most recent available, was $47,157. That was 34th in the country and $7,176 below the national average.

Other findings from the survey included:

  • The respondents’ average age is 49. 
  • 78.9 percent are women. 
  • 43.8 percent have master’s degrees. 
  • Only 28.8 percent consider the quality of teaching at their schools better than it was five years ago. 
  • They spent an average of 15 hours a week outside of class on school-related work. 
  • Their out-of-pocket expenses on school supplies averaged $564 a year. 
  • Their average out-of-pocket expenses for health insurance averaged $222 a month. 
  • Only 32.1 percent believed they had adequate time to prepare and teach. 
  • Discipline (57.7 percent) and paperwork (22.3 percent) were identified as the worst problems in their schools. 
  • Only 6 percent believed a single standardized test should determine whether a student gets promoted. 
  • 51 percent of respondents taught in urban districts and 38 percent in suburban schools. 
  • 37.4 percent taught in high school, 35.9 percent in elementary grades and 24.9 percent in middle school.