FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York, NY - A gripping report titled "Political Polarization and Its Repercussions for Public School Teachers" sheds light on the profound effects of political polarization on K-12 public school educators in the United States. The qualitative research project, led by the Constructive Dialogue Institute, delves into the daily experiences of 14 teachers using comprehensive video interviews, revealing the urgent need to address polarization and its burdens on teachers.
Key Findings from the Report:
1. Increasing Scrutiny of Teachers: Teachers report that they feel compelled to look at teaching decisions through a political lens, rather than evaluating what is best for student learning. Many fear harassment from parents or being fired.
2. Classroom Challenges: Student shouting matches, name-calling, and denial of historic facts such as the Holocaust are some of the difficulties teachers report experiencing during instruction. Many teachers resort to avoiding controversial topics, including important current events, in order to prevent conflicts. Simultaneously, they express regret that this limits students’ exposure to diverse perspectives, and hinders debate and critical thinking.
3. Escalating Intolerance: The report uncovers an increase in political intolerance and ideological conflicts, with a notable rise since the 2016 election. Among the top contentious topics are LGBTQ+ rights and critical race theory. This tension among students, staff, parents, and the community creates difficult learning environments and affects overall classroom and school dynamics.
Mylien T. Duong, Senior Director of Research at the Constructive Dialogue Institute, underscores the report's significance: "Teaching has always been a demanding job. In recent years, it’s only become harder. The stories we heard make it clear that, for some teachers, political polarization has made their work intolerable. We need to start addressing the issue before more teachers burn out.”
The report serves as a compelling call to action, emphasizing the need to address political polarization and its impact on K-12 educators. It highlights the collective vision for positive, inclusive learning environments and the need for change. By uniting to address the distractions polarization creates, we can foster the supportive environments that are vital for a healthy teaching force and the ultimate success of students.
About the Constructive Dialogue Institute (CDI)
Co-founded in 2017 by psychologist Jonathan Haidt and Caroline Mehl, the Constructive Dialogue Institute (CDI) is a non-profit organization that builds educational tools to equip Americans with the skills to communicate and collaborate across differences. To accomplish this goal, CDI translates the latest behavioral science research into educational resources that are evidence-based, practical, and scalable for institutions, educators, and communities.