Jul 3, 2018
Using nationally representative survey data, the authors analyze educators' views on two politicized issues: COVID-19 mitigation policies and teaching about race, racism, or bias. They assess how these topics might contribute to elevated job-related stress and explore the various consequences of politicization. The authors discuss implications and recommend strategies to foster productive discourse between communities and schools.
In a time when simply carrying out the essential functions of their jobs is a herculean task, educators have been faced with the additional challenge of addressing contentious, politicized topics in their schools and classrooms.
Drawing from nationally representative samples of teachers and principals who completed the 2022 State of the American Teacher and the State of the American Principal surveys and teacher interviews, the authors focus their analysis on two especially politically salient issues: school policies for implementing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) mitigation measures and teaching about race, racism, or bias. They investigate how these two highly politicized topics might contribute to elevated job-related stress by examining potential contributing factors, such as the extent to which educators must manage conflicting beliefs and opinions, the adequacy of support they receive, and the hostility and aggression that they experience from others in response to related policies.
The authors also explore differences by educator- and school-level characteristics. Although politicized topics are more contested in some school settings and locales than in others, survey results suggest that educators' beliefs about how schools should manage politicized issues vary within all kinds of school communities.
The authors explore the consequences of politicization for educators' instructional practices, well-being, perceptions of their school and district climate, and intentions to leave their jobs. They provide implications and recommendations on how to support educators in navigating politicized issues in their schools and classrooms in a way that fosters productive discourse between communities and schools.