The newspaper canary dies, the comeback of the street in Minneapolis, revisiting bike-to-work day, a sense of place in the Twin Cities, and Minnesota Nice.
MPR reporter Tim Post has a very compelling story today about the burnout experienced by teachers at the end of the school year.
It was, by all accounts, a difficult year for teachers, what with their holding a job that requires them to spend a day with dozens of kids -- could you? -- and having a job that puts them in the public eye and makes them easy targets for criticism.
Just one thing is missing from the complaint: A solution.
Teacher morale is eroding; that's not new. MPR's Daily Circuit did a show on it a few months ago, following a survey from Metropolitan Life that showed almost 1 of every 3 teachers is contemplating doing something else.
"No one wants to think that their work is undervalued or being blamed," Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, said. "The rhetoric has been so heated that it makes it hard for teachers to feel good day in and day out. "
Wait! There are people who feel good about work day in and day out?
The Met Life survey found that fewer than half of those teachers surveyed said they were very satisfied with their jobs. That was described as the worst morale in 20 years.
But the report also said that 81 percent are somewhat or very satisfied. And only 30-some percent said they were somewhat or very unsatisfied.
Curiously, while 81 percent said they were satisfied with their work, only 54% said they were optimistic that student achievement will get any better. What do we make of 27% of teachers being satisfied while being pessimistic about the improved student achievement?
These numbers, if they can be believed, tell another story when compared to the rest of the working world: teachers have it better.
In the broader working world, only 45 percent of workers in the U.S. are satisfied in the job, down 4% from 2008, according to the Conference Board.
The American workplace has become a stressful place with a high burnout factor in the last decade as employers shed workers, and the rest of us pick up the slack, often without the help of other workers pulling their fair share of the load.
Forty-four percent of the teachers in the Met Life survey report their schools have had layoffs in the last year. Forty percent in the workforce overall have had layoffs or announced layoffs in just the last six months, according to the GlassDoor employment confidence survey.
One in every 5 American workers is concerned he/she will be laid off. One in every 3 is concerned a co-worker will be. There's no available data that I can find for teachers in that category, especially since the state this year wrestled with a bill that would have allowed schools to lay off teachers on something other than seniority.
It may well be that low teacher morale and a feeling of being unappreciated will lead to more teachers quitting, too. But the surveys of the non-teacher working world don't suggest that there's a paradise out there.
A survey from the Department of Labor this week found 64% of working Americans leave their jobs because they don't feel appreciated. So it's entirely understandable that the reaction to our story today is, "you, too, pal?"(21 Comments)
General Mills showed absolutely no skittishness today when it went public with a call to turn aside the same-sex marriage ban in November's elections.
Ken Charles, General Mills' vice president of global diversity and inclusion acknowledged on his blog today that the same-sex marriage ban is a business issue for the company:
I am proud to see our company join the ranks of local and national employers speaking out for inclusion. We do not believe the proposed constitutional amendment is in the best interests of our employees or our state economy - and as a Minnesota-based company we oppose it.
We value diversity. We value inclusion. We always have ... and we always will.
We're proud of our workplace, and we're proud to be a leader for diversity and inclusion in our community. For decades, General Mills has worked to create an inclusive culture that welcomes and values the contributions of all.
We believe a diverse, inclusive culture produces a stronger, more engaged workforce - and strengthens innovation. Inclusive communities are more successful economically as well. We believe it is important for Minnesota to be viewed as inclusive and welcoming as well.
Obviously, there are strongly held views on both sides. We acknowledge those views, including those on religious grounds. We respect and defend the right of others to disagree. But we truly value diversity and inclusion - and that makes our choice clear.
Is there the possibility of blowback from supporters of the proposed ban who also eat cereal? The National Organization for Marriage certainly hopes so, judging by this press release this afternoon:
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today blasted the General Mills Corporation for basically declaring a 'war on marriage' with its own customers. Speaking at a Gay Pride event today, CEO Ken Powell said General Mills opposes an effort to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman in Minnesota, where the corporation is headquartered.
"Marriage as the union of one man and one woman is profoundly in the common good, and it is especially important for children," said Brian Brown, NOM's president. "General Mills makes billions marketing cereal to parents of young children. It has now effectively declared a war on marriage with its own customers when it tells the country that it is opposed to preserving traditional marriage, which is what the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment does."
A national survey conducted by the Alliance Defense Fund last year showed that 63% of people with children living in their home, 'believe marriage should be defined ONLY as a union between one man and one woman." Just thirty-five percent of people with children at home disagreed with the statement. Overall, the ADF survey found that 62% of adults believe marriage is only the union of a man and a woman.
"This will go down as one of the dumbest corporate PR stunts of all time," said Brown. "It's ludicrous for a big corporation to intentionally inject themselves into a divisive social issue like gay marriage. It's particularly dumb for a corporation that makes billions selling cereal to the very people they just opposed."
I'd like to hear from employees of General Mills. Does a political stance taken by your employer change things in your workplace?