For years, teachers have been seen by many as overworked and underpaid.
According to a new survey, add that most are satisfied with their jobs.
The first Kansas Teacher Working Conditions Survey, completed by 21,770, or 52.4 percent of the state's 41,558 teachers, showed:
¢ 79 percent say their school is a good place to work and learn.
¢ 87 percent believe staff are committed to helping every student learn.
¢ 85 percent say their schools are safe.
¢ 59 percent say their goal is to stay at their current school as long as possible.
Stephanie Walker, a fifth-grade teacher at Woodlawn School, took the survey and said the statewide results closely mirrored her feelings.
"The reason, personally, that teachers stay is because of their commitment to the cause of bettering children," Walker said.
"While pay will be an issue for a while, the overriding concern is that we do our best for the children. It's not all roses. It's a tough job but one worth doing," she said.
The survey was the result of a partnership between the Kansas National Education Assn. and the United School Administrators of Kansas. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius wrote to teachers and asked them to take the survey.
"These survey results show many areas where we are creating outstanding learning environments, but also highlight a few areas where we can work toward improvement," Sebelius said.
The survey also showed that:
¢ 39 percent of teachers believe they receive a sufficient amount of noninstructional time;
¢ 55 percent believe their class sizes are reasonable;
¢ 51 percent say they need additional support to improve working with special education students;
¢ 47 percent want to enhance their knowledge and skills around closing the achievement gap.
In the Lawrence district, 62.3 percent, or 574 of the district's 922 teachers completed the survey. The district results tracked closely to the statewide statistics in some areas and varied in others.
For example, 82 percent of Lawrence teachers said their school was a good place to work, compared with 79 percent statewide. But only 31 percent of Lawrence teachers said they had reasonable class sizes, compared with 55 percent statewide.
Lawrence teachers also were more likely to say they needed more noninstructional time than the state as a whole.
Walker said teachers do need more time to collaborate with their colleagues because teachers are generally good in their ability to share ideas.
"We all have found that while each one of us individually can come up with great plans, if we plan with another person, it gets greater, it's exponential," she said.
When asked what influenced future plans of employment, teachers cited numerous factors, including adequate support from leadership, the community environment and salary.
"There is an extremely high percentage of teachers who say they are committed to helping every student learn, and they want to stay in their own school and help," said Blake West, vice president of the KNEA.
But West said the survey shows concern among teachers about not having enough time to plan and wanting to work more with other teachers.
The state could help in this area by committing more funds to helping new teachers with support programs such as mentoring, something some districts do with their own local funds, he said.