What do we know about how the financial crisis, now almost three years old, has affected Jewish day schools? According to Mandel Center Senior Research Associate Eran Tamir, coverage by the mainstream and Jewish media has focused on the views of federation professionals, philanthropists, school leaders and administrators. Their views, which don’t always reflect the experiences of teachers and the impact on classrooms, have nevertheless framed the public discussion.
In his latest paper [PDF], part of the DeLeT Longitudinal Survey project, Tamir investigates how the recession is directly affecting teachers and their teaching at the classroom level, in their work with children. With layoffs, budget cuts, salary freezes, increased workloads and diminished resources, many teachers report higher stress levels, less time for planning and collaboration, less planning time for special needs students and other negative effects.
He also warns that economic constraints may exacerbate factors such as poor compensation and difficult working conditions that can lead to attrition of high quality teachers—already a challenge for the field.
Better understanding of how budget cuts and other financial decisions affect teachers and the learning environment will help school leaders in making those choices and community leaders be more aware of the effects of those choices. The story here goes deeper than the Jewish and mainstream media coverage we usually see.
Download the paper “The Impact of the Economic Recession on Teachers and Teaching in Jewish Day Schools.”