More than 60% of nation’s educators considering leaving the profession due in part to new challenges related to staffing shortages, says Horace Mann study

Impact on student learning and work environment compounding long-standing educator frustrations with compensation and respect.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Feb. 1, 2023 – More than 60% of public K-12 educators say they are considering leaving teaching, according to a February 2023 Horace Mann Educators Corporation (NYSE:HMN) report. Their decisions are being driven by a combination of staffing shortages, stress and financial worry.

The report, Checks and Balance: How financial stress and heavier workloads are accelerating the teacher shortage, shares insights from more than 500 K-12 educators surveyed about the current educational climate and what challenges educators are facing. Among the findings:

  • 30% of educators noted significant teacher shortages in their districts, while 47% noted significant staff shortages
  • Roughly 80% of educators surveyed said the impact of understaffing on both students and teachers is either moderate or severe
  • 30% of educators said they plan to leave the profession within the next three years, while another 33% are considering it

"For many teachers, the profession is a calling. They love making an impact on students and seeing them succeed, but their capacity to take on more work is at a breaking point," said Horace Mann National Business Solutions Executive Kelly Ruwe. “The pandemic exacerbated the teacher shortage, and remaining staff are taking on extra responsibilities without additional compensation. Often this means elimination of their planning time, other students parsed out to their classrooms when another teacher calls in sick, or even vacuuming their own rooms due to a lack of custodial staff. This negatively impacts both teacher morale and student learning."

The challenges of chronic school understaffing may be the tipping point for many educators who have for years felt overworked and underappreciated. In addition, 77% of public school educators are women, who have historically faced more challenges to financial security. Many private sector job opportunities offer higher pay, fewer hours and less stress. But educators did identify a few changes that would make them more likely to stay:

  • 57% - a better salary
  • 42% - better parent and community support
  • 41% - more supportive school or district leadership
  • 36% - smaller class sizes
  • 35% - safer work environment
  • 29% - better retirement benefits
  • 27% - feeling more financially secure
  • 25% - better healthcare and protection benefits

"We know many educators still have a passion for teaching but are questioning whether it is worth it in the current climate. Administrators are facing numerous challenges and pressures as well; while a higher salary can be a difficult item to provide, there are other solutions administrators can offer," added Ruwe. "School districts can do more to provide financial wellness resources and support. They can enhance benefit packages to provide more protection coverage to all school employees. And they can use mentoring and recognition programs to help retain teachers and strengthen a school’s culture."

About Horace Mann

Horace Mann Educators Corporation is the largest financial services company focused on helping America's educators and others who serve the community achieve lifelong financial success. The company offers individual and group insurance and financial solutions tailored to the needs of the educator community. Founded by Educators for Educators® in 1945, the company is headquartered in Springfield, Illinois.