- MCH Strategic Data on Wednesday unveiled the 2019 edition of its K-12 Principals' Assessment of Education, a survey of nearly 800 principals from across the U.S. aimed at identifying trends and the impact of changes in schools and districts.
- In this year's survey, principals reported their top concerns as adequate funding, attendance, teacher morale, student behavior, aligning assessments to standards and teacher professional development — all of which ultimately impact principals' ability to provide optimal educational opportunities and school culture.
- Principals also identified the top issues impacting their ability to create an effective education environment as inadequate funding, families' economic fragility, insufficient student readiness, teacher morale and lack of district support.
That principals' top concerns consistently involved funding should come as no surprise: While many states increased K-12 spending in the past year, the return of funding to pre-recession levels has lagged as demands for tech, the implementation of new standards, the teacher professional development to support these efforts, and more have risen.
Additionally, the relationship between many of the leading concerns cannot be understated. Teacher morale, for example, is directly impacted by factors like student behavior and readiness, families' economic fragility, professional development opportunities, and pay and benefits — and funding (or lack thereof) has a direct hand in making it possible to address these issues.
It hasn't helped that educators' perceptions have frequently taken a beating in the public eye in recent years, reaching a point in 2016 where former U.S. Secretary of Education John King Jr. felt the need to publicly apologize to teachers for the "unfair" blame they had received in the political sphere in particular.
But that public perception has shifted in recent years, as teachers have taken direct action and gone on strike in several states nationwide, raising public awareness of low pay, inconsistent benefits and other concerns — often coming out on top. And while this has put some school and district administrators in a pinch, leaders are all too familiar with the situation on the ground in many cases and have wanted to do more to improve teachers' situations.
Some schools and districts are thinking outside of the box on teacher benefits, offering options like on-site child care and free gym memberships. And districts like Tacoma Public Schools in Washington are working with local organizations to address student homelessness, while food trucks and student pantries are among efforts to address food insecurity — all which impacts behavior.
Still, despite these efforts and others, there's only so much ground administrators can cover in the current funding environment, given the breadth of demands they face overall.