Survey finds principals especially concerned over funding
(Mo.) Among the issues most on the minds of school principals nationally are behavior issues in children, raising teacher morale, improving attendance and acquiring adequate funding.
The findings come from an annual K-12 education report from MCH Strategic Data–a marketing database company based in Missouri–which surveyed a nationally representative sample of close to 800 principals.
Results showed that at the heart of each issue, whether it be teacher morale or student behavioral problems, was funding.
“Behavior issues in students is of great concern to most principals who responded to our survey,” researchers wrote. “Principals specifically called out the need for adequate staff and resources to care for students who have social and emotional learning needs, mental health issues, or other customized needs.
“The lack of resources and funding also contributes to low teacher morale and fewer qualified teachers entering the profession,” they continued. “Being able to increase pay for teachers, provide greater professional development opportunities, and purchase additional resources would help tremendously with these issues. However, principals still struggle with finding adequate funding and resources to provide the educational opportunities and school culture required to address the learning challenges of their student bodies.”
Lawmakers throughout the country have pushed for increased education spending in recent years, but in many areas funding still hasn’t returned to pre-recession levels.
A report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in March found that 12 states are still lagging far behind prior funding levels, and that more than half of all states are only just now creeping past pre-recession levels.
Authors of that study noted that teacher strikes in several low-funded states prompted lawmakers to substantially boost allocations for K-12 school–including in Oklahoma, Arizona and North Carolina.
Among the principals surveyed by MCH Strategic Data, 36 percent reported that teacher morale was actually better compared to last year, while 46 percent of principals said it was about the same. Of the 18 percent who reported that teacher morale was worse than the prior year, many said it had to with teachers feeling burdened and overwhelmed, disappointing compensation, and inadequate resources to meet complex student needs.
Close to 41 percent of principals ranked teacher moral as one of the most important issues they faced. Adequate funding was ranked as one of the most critical issues by more than 53 percent of principals surveyed.
Other highly ranked issues by the principals surveyed include attendance, at 42 percent, and behavioral problems in children, at nearly 39 percent.
Another theme that emerged was centered on safety and security of faculty and staff, according to the report.
“Many schools are taking a proactive approach to training faculty and staff on how to make their environments safer places to learn,” authors wrote. “In addition to training, schools are installing technology and enhancing facilities to provide for a safer environment.”
Like most challenges faced by school principals examined in the report, funding again came up as a supplemental issue. Only 20 percent of the principals surveyed said they receive local funding for safety and security measures, while 80 percent said such efforts were paid for through general district funds.