Overcrowded classrooms, high workloads, and yes, the Trump administration, have all contributed to rising stress rates in both teachers and students.
Roughly 61 percent of educators said their work was “always” or “often” stressful, compared with American workers, in general, citing their work was stressful 30 percent of the time, according to a new survey released by the American Federation of Teachers and the advocacy group Badass Teachers Association. The survey included responses from 5,000 educators and showed higher rates of stress when compared with a similar survey from 2015.
As for the causes of stress among American educators, the survey pointed to several key factors that most teachers are all too familiar with including: a feeling of having minimal influence over school decisions and long hours with unbalanced pay.
“My first year, I think I was under so much stress, that I just kind of floated above water and didn’t realize this isn’t what the real world is,” Melissa Gordon, a former seventh-grade teacher in Arizona told Fox10Phoenix. “I would come from school, fall asleep, wake up at 8:00 p.m., eat dinner, fall asleep again, get up at 5:00 a.m., do it again.” The stress eventually became too much for Gordon and she left in the middle of her third year of teaching.
One particularly unsettling finding of the AFT/BAT survey was that teachers were more likely to be bullied or threatened on the job — both from students and other educators — than other American workers. Around 27 percent of respondents in the random sample responded that they had been bullied while at work within the last year. Thirty-five percent of those bullied identified another adult such as the principal or another teacher as the bully, while 50 percent said they had been bullied by a student. Meanwhile, only 7 percent of U.S. workers experience workplace bullying.
Teachers aren’t the only ones stressed out in America’s schools though, according to a new study from UCLA, anxiety and hostility in high schools has worsened since Donald Trump took office. Researchers of the survey sent questionnaires to social studies, English and math teachers across the U.S. and analyzed the 1,535 responses to get a glimpse of how the current political landscape has impacted the mental health of students. Key findings showed that “stress and concerns with welfare have increased, particularly in schools enrolling mostly students of color” and “a growing number of schools, particularly predominantly white schools, have become hostile environments for racial and religious minorities.” Students showed the most concern about immigration issues under the Trump administration, particularly the possible deportation of “dreamers.”
“I’ve never been in a school year where I’ve had so many kids, kind of on edge,” wrote one Utah teacher who responded to the survey.