25 August 2023

Teachers’ Views on Safety

Welcome back. The Rand Corporation conducted a national survey of K-12 teachers’ views of school safety in October and November 2022. That was five months after the Uvalde school shooting and a period during which some 17 shootings occurred at K–12 schools in 14 different states. Rand’s 28-page report was released a few months ago. I just wasn’t ready to blog about the topic. My time’s up.

The survey covered the teachers’ main safety concerns, perceptions of security measures in place, the effect of those measures on school climate, and whether they were concerned for their own safety and that of their students.

The survey also asked whether allowing teachers to carry firearms would make schools more or less safe and whether they would carry a firearm if given the choice.

I’ll describe the survey, then highlight selected responses.

The Teacher Survey

RAND researchers surveyed a random sample of 973 K–12 teachers using the American Teacher Panel, which consists of more than 25,000 U.S. teachers.

Because teachers’ exposure to school violence might vary with school context, survey responses were categorized by both teacher characteristics--gender and race/ethnicity--and school characteristics--locale, racial/ethnic composition, poverty level, grade level and enrollment.

The sample’s responses were statistically weighted to estimate K-12 public school teacher responses across the country.

Some Key Findings

Bullying: Despite the growth in gun violence, bullying was the teachers' most common safety concern at all grade levels.

Estimated percentages of teachers who said that various school safety topics pose the greatest safety concern at their schools (Fig. 9 from www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA2641-1.html).

School Security Measures: Nearly all teachers surveyed worked in schools that had at least one of the eight security measures listed on the survey. The most common were visitor systems, exterior and interior locks and staff IDs, followed by dedicated security staff and/or security cameras. Roughly half of teachers felt the security measures had a positive effect on school climate; only 5% of teachers felt their schools' security measures had a negative effect.

Arming Teachers: Similar to older and state-specific surveys, the Rand survey found that teachers are divided about arming teachers. Although only 20% believed it would make schools safer, the divisions varied with teacher gender and race/ethnicity as well as with school characteristics. 

Estimated percentages of teachers who reported believing that having teachers carry firearms for school security would make schools more or less safe (Fig. 1 from www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA2641-1.html).

Teachers Who Would Carry Firearms: An estimated 19% of surveyed teachers would choose to carry a firearm if their school implemented a program allowing teachers to be armed. That varied significantly with gender and school locale. All told, an estimated 550,000 of the country's 3 million K–12 teachers would choose to carry a firearm at school if allowed.

Estimated percentages of teachers who would choose to carry a firearm if their school implemented a program allowing teachers to be armed (Fig. 2 from www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA2641-1.html).

Teachers’ Concern About Self and Students: Regardless of their school characteristics, roughly 1 in 5 teachers was worried about being the victim of an attack at their school. To be clear, however, the teachers reported more concern about their students’ safety. Roughly 1 in 3 teachers worried that their students would be victimized at school, and that concern was particularly high among teachers in secondary schools, high-poverty schools and schools located in urban areas.

Wrap Up
As you would expect, the report offers a great deal of detailed information, including several recommendations, such as: Identify how fears of victimization and of specific safety concerns contribute to teacher and principal turnover, and to student enrollment, attendance, and academic performance.

Thanks for stopping by.

Rand report on teachers' views of school safety: www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA2641-1.html
Article on report on EurekAlert! website: www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/990310

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