Schools across the United States are witnessing a rise in behavioral issues following the end of virtual learning.
In March 2020, many public school districts implemented various forms of virtual instruction; especially in urban school districts controlled by teachers’ unions, the return to traditional learning has been slow.
A report from The Wall Street Journal highlighted the tensions emerging as students adapt to a new normal — which, evidently, is characterized by violence and short tempers:
In the hallway between classes one afternoon this fall at Southwood High School in Shreveport, La., two boys exchanged words. All at once, they jumped at each other, witnesses said. Dozens of other students joined and they all fell into a heap, kicking and punching, until teachers pulled them apart. The fight was one in a series of brawls in Southwood’s courtyards and hallways on three subsequent days that led to 23 students being arrested and expelled.
School officials say they had never seen anything like it before at Southwood, known for its Cowboys football team, its biotechnology program and its scenic location on a former cattle ranch. The academically strong school has a 99% graduation rate for its student body of more than 1,600.
The problem also applies to wealthier school districts:
Parents in the relatively affluent suburb of Cherry Creek, Colo., outside Denver, said they were surprised to receive a letter from their school district in November that expressed concern over recent increases in the number of behavioral incidents involving high-school students.
“On-campus behavior issues include students treating each other and adults disrespectfully in and out of class in addition to leaving trash in halls, cafeterias, and outdoor spaces,” according to the letter sent to families from Cherry Creek High School. The letter asked parents to speak to their children about appropriate behavior and noted that incidents of misbehavior were occurring off-campus as well.
Amid the shifting educational landscape in the United States, a record number of parents are experimenting with private, Christian, and home school options. For instance, a report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools showed that charter school enrollment saw a 7.1% increase during the 2020-2021 school year — marking the largest expansion in five years.
“Nearly 240,000 new students enrolled in these innovative, student-centered public schools, despite a sharp decrease in overall public school enrollment during the same period,” said the analysis. “Of the 42 states evaluated, 39 experienced charter school enrollment increases, while only three saw modest decreases. By comparison, district school enrollment dropped precipitously in every state.”
The report likewise found that from March 2020 to September 2020, homeschooling rates across the country grew between 5.4% and 11%. Indeed, the United States Department of Education said that enrollment in public schools “fell by its largest margin in at least two decades” — a drop representing a 3% loss in enrollment between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years.