2019 Social Bullying getty
What Americans have said

What teachers said: How do we rate school problems and pressures?

In addition to the traditional PDK poll of Americans, PDK convened online focus groups with public school parents and public school teachers, thanks to funding support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. These comments are drawn from those two groups.

Too many kids are not necessarily mentally equipped to deal with the time and stress management issues that come up. Additionally, I think many kids from overachieving families are overstressed.

Tim, 50, White middle school special education teacher in suburban Virginia

Schools should also teach students about relationships — how to make them, how to keep them, what is appropriate and inappropriate, and what they should avoid. I have had numerous students who have been in abusive or inappropriate relationships and either did not realize it or had no idea how to get out of it.

Deborah, 53, White high school life skills teacher in suburban Missouri

Between mental illness and so many on the autism spectrum, we’re seeing more and more cases of impulse control issues, lack of motivation, depression, anxiety, and no proper coping skills or healthy emotional outlets. Too often, parents take for granted that the schools and teachers should be multitaskers: all-encompassing surrogate parents, clergy, social workers, healers, therapists, babysitters, cure-alls.

Liz, 50, White 1st-grade teacher in urban California

We need schools to focus on mental health and the ability to cope in difficult situations. I teach in middle school and I have noticed an uptick in depression, anxiety, and mental illness among my students and not a lot of support or coping skills. We need more training on dealing with technology and educate students on how to operate in a digital social world.

Andrea, 28, White middle school art teacher in urban Massachusetts

School needs to provide opportunities for students to grow in their perseverance and problem-solving/critical thinking skills (academically and socially).

Anna, 27, Black early elementary teacher in urban Minnesota

Because of a decrease in parental involvement, I do think schools will eventually need to address some of the aspects of growing into adult life. There are so many students who don’t have the skills or knowledge to open a bank account. They don’t understand the difference between checking and savings accounts. Don’t even get more started on budgeting! This isn’t because they’re not intelligent; they’ve just never had these discussions. I think we, as the public school system, will have to eventually fill the gaps.

Brian, 30, White high school teacher in suburban Texas

Many students I have encountered are broken socially and emotionally. For example, I have a student whose mother couldn't deal with his overactive behavior after his biological father passed away. He started counseling and continues it today, but the mom couldn't handle the behavior so she had her mother raising him. As a result, my student feels incomplete, insecure, and thirst for attention, which adds to his acting out, emotional gaps with forming friendships, and self-harm attempts.

Moniqua, 45, Black middle school teacher in urban Michigan

The downside of teaching is when you encounter a student who has given up on him or herself. The sad part about teaching is listening to some of the real sad and abusive home life situations. Many young people today have very little if any support systems outside of the school environment. The home life can cause anxiety, depression, mental health issues, apathy, drug abuse, sexual abusive and, most of all, anger issues.

An example of a real-life story that comes to mind was a male minority student who was homeless. He was living from place to place and had to take public transportation to get to the school. Many times he would be late to school because the two transfer buses he had to take would arrive a little past school start time. The school rules were what they were and he was marked tardy/unexcused absence, which caused him to get marked absent which caused him not to receive credits for his classes. He already had a life strike against him and now the system was setting him up for failure. I find it very frustrating that life circumstances make it almost impossible for some to have a chance at school/opportunities that a student with a healthy family life has. I also found it very challenging to boost or be a support system for high school age students who have no parental support at home. I would be their safety net while they were with me for a short time and then have to send them back to their unpleasant reality at the end of the day.

Jean, 60, mixed-race high school teacher in suburban Delaware

The current culture of standardized testing is, in my view, one of the most counterproductive aspects of American education. I would prefer to abolish it at least as a benchmark for measuring school and teacher success as it does not address the diversity in economics and learning styles present in most schools.

Tim, 50, White middle school special education teacher in suburban Virginia

Especially in the times of high-stakes testing, there is just not enough time in the day to address the plethora of issues that students face in the 21st century.

Colleen, 41, Black high school teacher in suburban Georgia

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