Teachers, Students in Poll Call Violence Major Concern; Many Educators Say Keeping Order Wastes Teaching Time
Byline: George Archibald, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Unruly students and violence in public schools are more of a worry for teachers and youth across the country than demands for rigorous academic standards and achievement, according to a new study.
Nearly half the teachers surveyed by Public Agenda, a liberal polling group in New York City, said they spend most of their time trying to keep order in the classroom.
"More than four in ten [teachers] say that teachers in their school spend more time trying to keep order than actually teaching, and surveys of students show them reporting pretty much the same thing," says the report titled "Where We Are Now: 12 Things You Need to Know About Public Opinion and Public Schools."
"High school students themselves report that violence in school is a fact of life, with many saying that they have seen 'serious fights' in their school at least monthly since they've been there."
The report says the Gallup Poll 2002 recorded 76 percent of respondents citing "lack of student discipline" as a "serious problem" in their local schools ; 63 percent reported "fighting, violence and gangs" in their schools.
In Public Agenda's "Reality Check" survey of 3,207 students from 1998 to 2002, 40 percent of students said "serious fights in school occur once a month or more," while 56 percent said "hardly ever."
"A majority [62 percent] also say their school has serious problems with too many students abusing alcohol or drugs. Most [64 percent] indicate that the hallways are crowded places where cursing is all too common."
The number citing cursing as a major problem rose to 77 percent when the question included the school cafeteria as well as hallways.
"Many [32 percent] report a serious problem with bullying. Only about a third say students treat one another with respect, and even fewer [18 percent] say most students treat teachers respectfully."
The report blames ineffective teachers and parental neglect for "the rough-edged, uncivil atmosphere in many high schools [where] few see high schools as places of respect or civility. …