‘There Will Be No Teachers Left': Educators in Philadelphia Talk About Quitting, School Violence and Paying for Classroom Supplies

Last year, a high school school teacher in Philadelphia said the cost out-of-pocket was $600 for their classroom supplies.

"I don’t have money to spare, but I’m committed to teaching," the teacher told NBC10 in an interview. The educator, along with five other teachers in the city district, spoke in-depth about their jobs on the condition of anonymity for fear they could lose their jobs.

Another teacher said that test-dominant cirriculums take all of the joy out of the profession and all self-expression and imagination out of the classroom.

"We're asked to teach to the test. They will come right out and tell you: 'if it’s not a test-taking skill, don’t teach it,'" the elementary school teacher said. "If the parents knew, truthfully, what went on in the schools, there would be repercussions."

More than 500 local teachers took a survey from NBC10 giving their opinions on whether educators should be armed, whether the classroom is a safe environment and how often they contemplate leaving their profession. NBC10 investigative reporter Mitch Blacher has the story.

Teachers in Philadelphia don't make a fortune — between $46,000 and $84,000 annually — and it's hard-earned: they deal with occasional in-school violence, constant pressure to improve test scores and a high-rate of turnover among their peers.

Those are among the top existential threats, according to the teachers themselves in the survey conducted by NBC10 and subsequent interviews with six of the educators.

More than 500 teachers in Philadelphia took an NBC10 survey that probed what it’s like inside the classroom and inside their decisions to stay in the profession or leave for another career.

More than 500 city teachers responded to the survey, which was sent to 3,000 overall who work in Philadelphia schools. The poll consisted of 18 questions, with particular focuses on retention, workplace safety and personal expenses for classroom supplies. Poll takers also provided how long they have taught and at what grade level. 

Superintendent William Hite would not discuss specifics of the NBC10 survey with the NBC10 Investigators. However, he did say in an interview following a school board meeting in October that the district does its own survey and he feels "like we get a lot of information from individuals and from teachers in particular."

Here are six questions from the survey, and how the teachers answered. After each are insights from a teacher or educational expert.

"I don’t want to leave, but if it gets worse I guess I’m going to have to reconsider." - Teacher

"It looked to me like your elementary teachers felt the least safe and see the most violence. That surprised me." - Eric Anderman, professor of educational psychology at Ohio State University

"Aggression between kids is a real issue." - Teacher

"I never expected violence would be a part of my job." - Teacher

"I’m already up to $600 in my classroom." - Teacher

Should teachers be armed? More than 90% say no

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