Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.


Ed. Dept. Morale Plummets Under Betsy DeVos, Report Finds

By Alyson Klein — December 12, 2018 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The U.S. Department of Education ranks dead last among 27 mid-size federal agencies when it comes to employee job satisfaction, according to a new report that ranks “the best places to work” in the federal government.

Overall, job satisfaction at the U.S. Department of Education has plummeted from an “engagement” score of 59.7 in 2017—the year DeVos took office—to 47.3 in 2018.

That 12.4-point drop is the biggest for the Education Department since at least 2003, and one of the biggest among mid-size federal government agencies in the past year. The only other large or mid-size agencies that have seen bigger declines are the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which saw a 25.2-point drop in its score, and the National Labor Relations Board, which posted a 12.6-point decline.

Among small agencies, only the Federal Labor Relations Authority and the Export-Import Bank saw bigger drops in engagement than the Education Department.

By contrast, job satisfaction at the agency generally ticked up during the Obama years, from a score of 56.4 in 2009 to a high of 61.3 in 2015. Satisfaction dipped a bit in 2016, the final year of the Obama administration, to 59.8. The department however, has historically been ranked as one of the worst places in the federal government to work, no matter who is in charge.

The new study was released by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. Its findings dovetail with those of a report administered by the Office of Personnel Management earlier this year, which also found that morale had slipped at the Education Department. Only 61 percent of employees felt the agency was successfully completing its mission in 2018, compared to 73.2 in 2016, before the Trump team took office.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has clashed with the American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing the department’s staff, over telework and more. The Trump administration has also sought to significantly reorganize the department, and to merge it with the U.S. Department of Labor.

“The secretary challenged department leaders to rethink the way the Department of Education operates so that we can better serve students and use taxpayer funds more wisely,” said Elizabeth Hill, a DeVos spokeswoman.

“That has required a lot of change over the last year, which can be difficult for some. The changes we’ve undertaken already, and will continue to make into next year, will ultimately lead to the department becoming more efficient, effective, and accountable -- which makes it a better place to work.”

Photo: Swikar Patel for Education Week

Follow us on Twitter at @PoliticsK12.

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal White House Launches Hispanic Education Initiative Led by Miguel Cardona
President Joe Biden said his administration intends to address the "systemic causes" of educational disparities faced by Hispanic students.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona writes down and draws positive affirmations on poster board with students during his visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits students in New York City at P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school in the Bronx last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP
Federal Feds Add Florida to List of States Under Investigation Over Restrictions on Mask Mandates
The Education Department told the state Sept. 10 it will probe whether its mask rule is violating the rights of students with disabilities.
3 min read
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Federal How Biden Will Mandate Teacher Vaccines, Testing in Some States That Don't Require Them
President Joe Biden's COVID-19 plan will create new teacher vaccination and testing requirements in some states through worker safety rules.
4 min read
Nurse Sara Muela, left, administers the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site setup for teachers and school staff at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa., on March 15, 2021.
Nurse Sara Muela administers a COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site for at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa.
Matt Rourke/AP
Federal Biden Pushes Schools to Expand COVID-19 Testing, Get More Teachers Vaccinated
President Joe Biden set teacher vaccine requirements for federally operated schools as part of a new effort to drive down COVID's spread.
7 min read
President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Washington. Biden is announcing sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant.
President Joe Biden in a speech from the White House announces sweeping new federal vaccine requirements and other efforts in an renewed effort to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrew Harnik/AP