Saying families are breaking down and society’s values are changing, a Sweetwater County teaching group is begging school leaders in Rock Springs to help teachers with reported behavioral chaos among students.
The group ultimately brought the issue back to a reported lack of funding as well.
“Many students are apathetic toward education at the best and loudly disruptive – including yelling of expletives and tossing of things not meant to be tossed – at the worst,” said Marty Albert, vice president of the Sweetwater Education Association, during a Monday meeting of the Sweetwater County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees.
The SEA’s prepared statement concluded with the hope that the district can get more money from the state Legislature.
Responding to a Cowboy State Daily inquiry about possible causes and solutions, Nicole Bolton, the district’s human resources director didn’t address the behavior issues, but agreed more funding would help: “The District supports its teachers and shares their concerns about the adequacy of funding for Education Finance in the State.”
‘Families Have Changed’
Teachers have to divert teaching time into classroom management, Albert told the school board Monday, adding that students’ mental health and ability to learn are taking a hit amid the disruptions.
It’s worse in the older grades, said Albert, but all grade levels are struggling.
“We need help,” Albert said.
“A popular opinion held by many outside of the teaching profession is that kids have not changed. This is simply not true,” said Albert. “Families have changed. Society has changed. And these changes are reflected in student bevaior.”
Fifteen years ago, behavioral problems with students were anomalies, she said.
Reaching out to parents has had “absolutely no effect” in some instances, even when the parents talk to their students.
Albert said the school may blame teachers for upcoming low scores on the state’s standardized test, the WyTOPP. But blaming poor behavior will be seen as a “cop-out.”
Many teachers want to leave. Everyone is working hard. Counselors are overwrought and have to overlook the lesser needs, she said.
More Counselors, Please
Cheryl Notman, SEA president, read the second half of the organization’s prepared statement because of time constraints on each public commenter.
She said she appreciates that the district has found grant money to hire counselors, but the teachers need more counselors and social workers to help students dealing with abuse, suicidal ideation, depression, “and the many other woes that come with the breakdown of the home.”
Some teachers resort to testing kids for behavioral or mental issues, she said.
“Teachers have been criticized for overidentifying students for special education testing – yet at this time this is our only recourse,” said Notman.
The district should station behavior teachers in every school for general-education students; more counselors to support all students; social workers for both general-ed and special-education students; and a parent education specialist to help parents work with the schools, Notman said.
“We know a large number of people on our insurance are taking anti-anxiety medication,” she added, saying the job has become “non-viable.”
Lastly, Notman said, the SEA supports the district’s lawsuit against Wyoming, where some schools and the Wyoming Education Association are suing to force more money from the Legislature.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.