COVID-19 Policy Fallout in Education
Pandemic Rage Drove Most Superintendents to Contemplate Quitting
- By Dian Schaffhauser
two-thirds of school
superintendents (63%) said they have contemplated leaving the job.
While some were already planning to retire during the 2021-2022
school year, more said they were driven by "the stress of the
no-win situation" in which they were finding themselves.
That's the big
outcome from a
survey of superintendents run in
June by the National
400 district leaders cited the "no-win situation." As one
superintendent explained, "The whole political circus
that this terrible public health crisis has turned into is tragic.
Antimaskers and anti-vaxxer parents have turned into combative
activists, while 50% of parents want completely in-person education
with no restrictions, and the remaining 50% want remote learning or
every mitigation strategy in place, including a universal mask
Many respondents reported receiving
personal and family threats, having people follow them home from
school board meetings and becoming the target of vandalism. The
problems were viciously exacerbated for superintendents who were
female and/or people of color.
also found that while feelings of frustration persist, 83% of
superintendents have remained on the job. Primary reasons cited by
respondents included these: They're dedicated to the work; unwilling
to leave their students, communities and staff; the current year is
an anomaly that won't last forever; and the retirement and insurance
benefits are too compelling to walk away from. Another reason
mentioned by several: They didn't want to be "driven out by the
people attacking them" or "cave in to [community] bullies."
also revealed that while hiring of principals probably wouldn't be a
major emergency, teachers were another story. Three-quarters of
survey participants said that they projected having to replace fewer
than a tenth of their principals. However,
a third expected to replace between 11% and 20% of their teachers,
anticipated replacing between 21% and 30%. Another asserted that they
have to replace 85% of teachers for the year.
we have begun to place people in the classroom who are not certified
teachers. There are no applicants available who are fully certified,"
one respondent reported. "No one wants to go into education as a
profession anymore. Colleges are not graduating enough educators to
go around. Pay is a problem. Respect for teachers is a problem.
Mandates and control of every aspect of the job is a problem.
Benefits and insurance are a problem."
observed that their professions have definitely changed. "It
will be harder and harder to find quality candidates to fill
superintendents' positions. The political landscape has made the job
increasingly difficult," wrote one.
report ended by applauding the resilience of educators and warned
politicians who "callously played politics" with the
pandemic not to blame them for the economic repercussions of school
report, "Superintendents Struggle During Pandemic," is
openly available on
the National Superintendents Roundtable.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.