72 Percent of Floridians Worried About K-12 Public School Staff Shortages, New National Institute on Retirement Security Survey Finds 

Retirement and Healthcare Benefits Viewed as Key Tools to Attract and Retain Public School Teachers and Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28, 2022 – A new survey of Floridians finds deep public concern about the state’s K-12 public school workforce. Seventy-two percent of Floridians express concerns about public school staff shortages, while 73 percent are worried about workforce burnout. Most Floridians (89 percent) say K-12 public school staff deserve more respect, and they indicate that better pay (87 percent), healthcare benefits (87 percent) and pensions (83 percent) would help address workforce shortages.

These findings are contained in a new research infographic from the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), Floridians’ Views of K-12 Public School Personnel,Compensation and Salary.

Read the research here.

“The good news is that Florida lawmakers have taken steps to increase teacher salaries,” said Dan Doonan, NIRS executive director. “However, recent efforts in Florida to degrade teacher retirement benefits could have the unintended consequence of driving more teachers out of the classroom.”

“The past two years have been grueling for the K-12 workforce,” Doonan added. “It will be critically important for Florida policymakers to make thoughtful decisions about how to keep Florida teachers in the classroom and draw more young people into the education profession. Our research finds that Floridians understand that teacher pay and benefits are key levers for addressing the K-12 workforce crisis; and they overwhelmingly agree that providing educators with financial and health security in the short and long term can help rebuild the education workforce.”

The report’s key findings are as follows:

  • Floridians highly value K-12 public school teachers and personnel. Ninety-six percent say public school teachers and personnel are important to their community, while 89 percent say they deserve more respect. Eighty-four percent say their pay should be increased. (Q14C)
  • Floridians are deeply concerned about K-12 public school teachers and personnel. Seventy-four percent are concerned that fewer people are going into education, while 73 percent are concerned about staff burnout. Seventy-two percent are worried about staff shortages.
  • Floridians say the top five ways to attract and retain teachers and school personnel are better pay (87%), more funding and resources for schools (87%), more generous healthcare benefits (87%), smaller class sizes (85%), and more generous pension benefits (83%).
  • Floridians say healthcare and retirement benefits are magnets for attracting and retaining K-12 school personnel and these benefits should be protected. Ninety two percent of Floridians say healthcare benefits are a good tool to attract and retain teachers and school personnel, while 90 percent percent agree pensions help attract and retain K-12 employees. Eighty-nine percent say teachers and school personnel should have a pension so they have a secure retirement after a career in education, 88 percent agree school personnel should have healthcare benefits through their employer while working and in retirement. Additionally, 86 percent of Floridians say that because of inflation, K-12 employee pensions should have a cost-of-living adjustments similar to Social Security, and 73 percent agree that teacher & school personnel pensions should never be replaced with 401(k)-style retirement accounts. [Q17D]
  • Regarding efforts in Florida to change K-12 employee pensions, Floridians support teacher choice and pensions. Eighty-seven percent of Floridians say pensions help incentivize long teaching careers in Florida, which benefits children, schools, and communities. Another 82 percent of Floridians say K-12 personnel should continue to have a choice between a pension and a 401(k) account, and 81% say Florida teachers should have a pension to compensate for the fact that on average, 45 states pay their teachers more. Eighty-one percent say it is unfair to offer pensions to some Florida public employees, like police officers and firefighters, but not teachers.

The survey was conducted by Greenwald Research in December 2021. The sample was selected using Dynata, an online sample provider. This research was made possible thanks to a grant from NRTA: AARP’s Educator Community.

The National Institute on Retirement Security is a non-profit, non-partisan organization established to contribute to informed policymaking by fostering a deep understanding of the value of retirement security to employees, employers, and the economy as a whole. Located in Washington, D.C., NIRS membership includes financial services firms, employee benefit plans, trade associations, and other retirement service providers. More information is available at www.nirsonline.org. Follow NIRS on Twitter @NIRSonline.