Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Some Possible Reasons for the Spike in School Violence

All over the nation, school violence has been increasing, violence of student against student, student against teacher. School districts have
been reluctant to talk about this, but it is a huge subject of private discussion among teachers. Here are my own views of
why school violence is increasing and is likely to increase in the future.

1. Schools have become pressure cookers filled with high stakes tests, putting students on edge. The average school now give 17 tests a
year, compared to 6 before No Child Left Behind.  In many schools, all that takes place in classrooms is testing and test prep. Students have
little opportunity to express themselves and often feel assaulted and humiliated by the way the material is presented, as well as the tests

2. Class size has risen, reducing the chance of students making a personal connection with teachers, and making it more difficult for
teachers to control a class.

3. Music, the arts and sports programs all have been cut as school budgets have been slashed and testing expenses have risen, taking
away the very things that students most look forward to going to school for and also removing the activities where they are most likely
to find success and express their unique talents

4. Teachers are constantly attacked and disrespected, in the media, in comments made by parents and other adults, eroding their authority
over the young people they work with. And this disrespect is reinforced by the way administrators treat teachers, during observations, and sometimes during routine conversations and interactions.  If teachers are everywhere the object of contempt among adults, why should young people respect them?

5. With budget cuts, there has been a sharp decline in support personnel like school counselors and school psychologists, to who young people in trouble
can be referred when teachers see them in pain, or on the verge of exploding. Many student problems are best dealt with in small group settings and forcing teachers to deal with them in overcrowded stress filled classrooms is asking for trouble

6. Students look at the world around them and see few rewards for completing school successfully. The vast majority of the jobs they will get after graduating from college will be low paying and have little in the way of a career ladder, and college is becoming increasingly expensive at a time when even immediate consequence of graduation is more likely to be student loan debt than a high paying secure job. Given the grim job market, telling students about the rewards of working hard and mastering the boring material they are deluged with leaves them cold. Why sacrifice in the present if there is little hope in the future.

7. The same deteriorating economy that is compromising students futures is making their present lives difficult. More and more families are forced to live doubled and tripled up and take in borders; others are going through bouts of homelessness or moving from place to place as their economic prospects dim. Many of these living situations are stressful, some are abusive.  More and more students, even from once middle class families are bringing incredible stress to school at a time when schools is less and less equipped to cope with their needs

   These are some of the reasons I have put forth for a crisis in our schools that few are willing to acknowledge. i am sure readers can come up with others, but I felt it was important to start this discussion