Many Stressed K-12 Education Workers Consider Changing Jobs – Governing

After a year of reshaping teaching and learning to contend with COVID-19, K-12 education workers are worried and worn out. A new report from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE) at ICMA-RC finds that their stress levels and health concerns are greater than ever, and that nearly 40 percent have considered changing jobs.

This is an unwelcome indicator of instability in what is by far the largest segment of the public workforce. According to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau, 8.3 million of the 14.2 million persons employed by local government work in education, primarily at the elementary and secondary levels.

Extended disruption of normal school operations has distressed parents, students and political leaders. Full economic recovery is not possible without functioning schools, and the possibility of a rush to leave school jobs concerns government leaders.

“State and local governments were already having challenges with recruitment and retention of teachers before the pandemic,” says Rivka Liss-Levinson, Ph.D., senior research manager for SLGE and author of the report. “Now there are a new set of problems in terms of how you’re going to keep K-12 workers when they have low morale and so many safety and financial concerns.”

Adapting to teaching and learning during the pandemic means longer hours for many education workers. (Graph: Center for State and Local Government Excellence at ICMA-RC)

Risks and Rewards Are Out of Synch

SLGE analyzed responses from 494 K-12 employees with demographic characteristics that were consistent with