All across the country, school teachers are beginning to resign due to a rising fear of violence from students, with many acts largely going unpunished by authorities.
As reported by the New York Post, student behavior has gotten progressively worse after the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic, with fights breaking out more frequently, and some altercations leading to teachers sustaining injuries in the process of trying to break up the fighting.
A study by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in 2022 revealed that 84% of public school administrators believe the COVID pandemic drastically reduced student behavior and led to greater misbehaving. Another survey, conducted in April by EdWeek, found that 70% of teachers and other administrators believe the problem is getting worse.
“General behavior issues have become a bigger challenge in the job,” said Colin Sharkey, executive director of the Association of American Educators. “It preceded the pandemic, but it certainly accelerated because of the pandemic. It is a serious problem, and it’s threatening the number and quality of educators that we’re able to retain.”
Of all the public education employees who left the job last year, half were resignations; one-third of teachers who are still on the job say they’re likely to leave within the next two years.
One example is Stacey Sawyer, a 55-year-old former 8th grade teacher who quit her job in Cape Coral, Florida last June, after 30 years on the job.
“It was getting to the point that it was scary. There were a few days that I was scared to go to school,” said Sawyer. “Even though I ran a really tight classroom, the disrespect just skyrocketed. Probably 75% of my time was dealing with discipline. The stress of it was just too much. I even hated just driving down the road to school. I didn’t want to go anymore.”
While Sawyer ultimately quit her job without experiencing violence against herself, other teachers were not so fortunate. In February, a Florida teacher named Joan Naydich was beaten into unconsciousness after a student punched her and stomped on her at Matanzas High School. The suspect, who was just 17 years old at the time, pleaded guilty to felony charges. In another incident in May, an assistant principal in Texas was hospitalized after trying to break up a fight between two students, with the school district announcing that both students would be “subject to the full extent of disciplinary action available.”
A survey in 2022 by the American Psychological Association found that one in every eight teachers reported being the victims of physical violence from students. In the last school year alone, there were at least 1,350 assault-related workers’ compensation claims filed in schools in the United States.
In response to the rising trend, 10 states have introduced bills that would allow for stricter discipline against students, such as reducing the threshold for suspension and allowing teachers to use more discretion when enacting disciplinary measures. Four of those states – Arizona, Kentucky, Nevada, and West Virginia – have passed such bills into law.