Dive Brief:

  • According to a survey from the Center for State & Local Government Excellence, two-thirds of teachers feel the coronavirus pandemic has made the public more appreciative of their roles, though a quarter do not feel they were compensated fairly for their work this spring. The survey was conducted May 4-20.
  • The majority of teachers trusted their state and local officials over the federal government to make safety-related decisions. Also, 61% said the pandemic had adversely affected their family financially, more than 75% were concerned the pandemic would affect their ability to save for retirement, and 70% felt their profession put them somewhat at risk of COVID-19 exposure.
  • In another Center for State & Local Government Excellence teacher survey focused on perceptions of job and benefits, about 25% of teachers who responded said they were “extremely satisfied” with their general finances, and 40% were “very satisfied.” But 40% reported being “very satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with their pay.

Dive Insight:

Regardless of higher levels of job satisfaction, teachers may choose to retire or change fields if schools reopen before they consider it to be safe. That could create a greater teacher shortage at a time when budget cuts are looming. The Economic Policy Institute reports K-12 job losses in April were greater than throughout the Great Recession. Those who lost their jobs included special education teachers, teaching assistants and tutors, as well as custodians, nurses, building maintenance staff and counselors.

The Learning Policy Institute also suggests a 15% reduction in state education funds is likely and could result in the loss of 320,000 teaching positions in the U.S., or about 8% of all teachers. During the Great Recession, the teaching profession lost 275,000 jobs. But reopening schools during the pandemic may require more staff to implement safety strategies like reduced class sizes, which would require more teachers.

A survey conducted between Aug. 14-19 by the National Association of Secondary School Principals found principals were split on whether COVID-19 accelerated their plans to resign or whether the pandemic triggered thoughts of leaving the profession. Almost 50% of principals who responded to the survey said they may leave their jobs because of the political environment, working conditions and health concerns during the pandemic.

About 5% of respondents said they plan to leave as soon as possible, and about 17% said they would leave their positions in one or two years. The reasons for dissatisfaction include lack of leadership, planning and the politicization of the pandemic. Principals also cited concerns over staff and students getting sick as the second reason they are thinking about resigning.

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