How School Leaders Cope with Stress

By Naomi Dillon

In November, the American Psychological Association (APA) released its annual “Stress in America” survey, and on the surface it appears as though Americans are learning how to handle the turmoil that a bad economy can wreak. Just a quarter of those surveyed reported experiencing extreme stress in 2009, compared to a third in 2008, and while 42 percent said their stress had increased over the past year; that was down from the 47 percent who saw their blood pressure rising in 2008.

Maybe it was the federal stimulus funds, a slowdown in job losses, or an uptick in the stock market that has lightened the mood in the country. But, as analysts have warned, the United States isn’t in the clear yet -- and no one knows this better than educators.

In fact, an APA poll of school administrators might have yielded very different results. By all accounts, the challenges associated with providing a quality education didn’t subside in 2009, nor do things look to get any easier in the future.

Despite an infusion of federal money, including $100 billion for public education, schools took a big hit last year. Declining state revenue and property values have resulted in continued program cuts, school closures, and massive layoffs in every region of the country.

Developing the 2009-10 budget, which most districts are in the process of doing right now, will require a magician’s skill, as further reductions can’t help but reach the classroom, possibly eroding student achievement.

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