AASPA Benefit Survey on COVID-19 from PK-12 HR
A Brief Overview of the Landscape of Teacher Education
In recent years, the field of education has been fighting an uphill battle, faced with negative media attention and poor perceptions of teaching as a career choice. Last year alone saw a record number of teacher walkouts, protests and strikes. The underlying message was clear, we do not pay teachers enough and they do not receive the respect that they deserve. The results of these negative perceptions have led to a 23% decline in the number of people completing teacher-preparation programs as well as a staggering low retention rate of new teachers who leave the occupation within the first five years. As the demand for public education increases, states will continue to struggle to recruit and retain high-quality educators. Now enter COVID-19. With over 10 million Americans applying for unemployment and companies shutting their doors and families going without, the education of students does not stop. A key goal of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA) has always been and will remain, to help elevate the profession of human capital resources in education and assist school districts in recruitment and retention of high quality talent for the education of students in PK-12.
AASPA recently sent a survey to members and nonmembers asking questions about what is going to happen to school employees during this unprecedented shutdown. While not surprising, it was clear that the wellbeing of district staff would be a main priority.
When asked, “Are you compensating teachers during COVID-19 closures?” An overwhelming 95.96% of the districts reporting said; Yes, they are paying all teachers regardless of category, hours or telecommuting opportunities. Additionally, 41.39% of school districts are compensating substitute teachers at their daily rate if they were currently long-term subs. Districts knew immediately they were going to need to adapt and they knew that taking care of their staff would be the first steps in what we now know to be a long list of priorities. Ultimately, the decision to take care of teachers and staff was made even before districts understood their next steps in educating their students.
In addition, districts reported an overwhelming support for their food service, maintenance/facilities and support staff. Many have equipped their teachers and staff to work from home and are adjusting schedules to fit the needs of families. According to the comments provided on the survey, for those employees willing to work in the food distribution program they are being paid time and a half.
It is amazing to see how schools have been creative in keeping their staff working and keeping them paid. Districts have been able to provide equipment and resources in a short period of time to comply with the quick need to move and as such, almost all school employees have been given the opportunity to work from home. When staff do not have enough work to keep them busy throughout the day, districts are having them complete trainings or participate in professional development through Ted Talks, book studies and professional learning communities.
As the weeks go on, districts are continuing to support their staff and in return these amazing staff are supporting students at home. Providing school talent and employees with resources, time and support is happening all over the country. When the decisions started coming down from the top about having to close school districts for an extended period of time, educators got to work. We are seeing innovation and creativity like we have never seen in education.
Changes in Recruiting and Hiring for the 2020-2021 School Year
In normal circumstances many school personnel administrators and recruiters would be in the middle of recruitment season. Districts would be gathering their giveaways and promotional materials and hitting the road to visit both local and national colleges of education throughout the country. With this opportunity gone, the question facing districts is how to proceed with recruiting and hiring?
We addressed this in our survey, asking participants if they will be proceeding with recruitment and hiring and how they will be conducting interviews. Over 59% of districts responded they are still actively recruiting teachers and support staff. While some have indicated a suspension on hiring most agree it is not a task that they can put off especially with the looming teacher shortage still upon us. Now that 85% of all career fairs for the spring have been canceled, districts are considering virtual career fairs. While virtual career fairs have been around for some time, districts have had mixed results in the past. However, there is a new understanding that virtual fairs are the new reality. Thanks to innovation in the areas of online applicant systems, online interview platforms and telephone interviews, districts are not without options.
As we move forward to fulfill our goals as an association and districts work to fulfill their recruitment goals for next year, we hope this time will serve as a reminder of how much AASPA values and appreciates the work of our PK-12 talent. While the hours are not always the best and the workload is hard, our districts really do care about their teachers and their employees. When the pandemic is over and everything gets back to some sense of normalcy, our dream is that we will see people flock to education as a safe, caring and rewarding career. A career that equips individuals to be amazing educators for our children.
Results of the Survey
I encourage you to view the results of the survey. Summary data is available to anyone. Detailed response data is available to AASPA members only.
To access the Members Only detailed survey you will need to log in to the AASPA website and look under Member Benefits.