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Philadelphia Teachers Are Passionate About Their Work But Are Dissatisfied By Their Workload and Compensation

A New Citywide Talent Coalition Focused on Creating a Diverse and Effective Educator Workforce, Conducted a Survey of over 700 Philadelphia Public School Teachers


[Philadelphia, PA] – The Philadelphia Citywide Talent Coalition today announced the results of a citywide survey of 734 public district and charter school teachers that asks about their views on the direction of schools, their experience in the profession, and ways to recruit and retain more diverse and effective educators to teach in Philadelphia. The survey was commissioned by Elevate 215, which serves as the organizational backbone and convener of the Philadelphia Talent Coalition, and sought teacher feedback as an important step in building a more diverse, effective teaching workforce.

“The fact that educators in Philadelphia feel respected by parents and communities and have such a clear passion for what they do reinforces how our local education experience differs from the national narratives we hear,” said Dr. Stacy Holland, Executive Director of Elevate 215. “Philadelphia values and supports its teachers. The question is, what can we as a city do to make teaching more attractive for new teachers, particularly teachers of color, and to create a nurturing professional environment for all teachers?”

The survey found that many Philadelphia teachers are passionate about their work and their students, but struggle with overwhelming workloads and insufficient salaries. Despite this common experience, effective retention strategies vary depending on a teacher’s race/ethnicity and length of time in the profession. Key findings identified by Embold Research, which conducted the survey, and the Talent Coalition include:

  1. Many teachers believe the school they teach at is on the right track, but that schools in Philadelphia are headed in the wrong direction.
  2. A strong majority of teachers feel they are respected by peers, parents, and school administration, and most teachers report a passion for what they do.
  3. Despite this passion, more than half of all teachers are frustrated with their current salary, workload, and the lack of access to adequate facilities and resources.
  4. While there were many similar responses across all teacher groups, projected rates of retention and top incentive policies differed significantly between teachers of color and white teachers, and between new and experienced teachers.
  5. Newer teachers are more diverse than the overall teacher workforce, and teachers of color are more likely to live in Philadelphia, have a significant amount of student loan debt, and have an emergency permit or be non-certified.
“We recognize the heartfelt commitment and sense of dedication expressed by our teachers,” Vanessa Garrett Harley, Deputy Mayor for the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Children and Families, said. “Teachers are essential to the process of guiding children toward reaching their fullest potential, a goal the City shares with Philadelphia schools. It is vital that our students have access to the best teachers who feel valued and fulfilled in their roles.”

The Philadelphia Talent Coalition is a group composed of representatives from 23 organizations from across a diverse range of sectors–education, nonprofit, civic, research, and philanthropy–to collectively work on implementing strategies from a citywide talent plan. The group began coming together in 2022, when Elevate 215 was recruited by the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Education to lead the development of a comprehensive talent plan for Philadelphia.

“The survey provided Philadelphia teachers a platform to express their passions and frustrations, and also provides actionable data that can help lift up the profession,” said Jerry Jordan, President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT). “Philadelphia teachers simply want to feel valued for the amazing work they do in service to their students, usually under difficult circumstances, including being supported and compensated in ways that reinforce that appreciation at all levels of their career.”

The survey will inform the Talent Coalition’s ongoing work. Specifically, the coalition will use these findings to develop a slate of policy recommendations to the Mayor’s Office and local school system leaders in the spring, that would help accelerate work to create a Citywide Strategy for Diverse and Effective Teachers, a comprehensive plan for recruiting, retaining, and developing more quality teachers, and in particular, more teachers of color.

Beyond the headline findings, the coalition is focused on learning more about the responses of the city’s new and educators of color. The hundreds of educators in those groups who responded were more likely to live in Philadelphia, and identified barriers to remaining in the profession such as student loan debt or lack of traditional certifications. These point the way to themes to further analyze in a series of follow up interviews the coalition is conducting.

You can find more information on the survey results presentation, toplines and crosstabs.