Commentary and Criticism about the National Education Association
We have absolutely no affiliation with the National Education Association and do not represent its views in any way, shape or form.
“Honestly, I’ve had more students this year hospitalized for anxiety, depression, and other mental-health issues than ever.”
Kathy Reamy, Chairwoman of the NEA School Counselor Caucus
THESIS OF BLOG POST – Homeschooling should be considered
As a public school teacher, I certainly wouldn’t benefit by recommending home schooling as an answer to the problem of student anxiety. If too many kids are home-schooled, I would be out of a job.
But if I am going to be intellectually honest, then I have to consider it as a possible solution.
That implies there is a problem, correct?
Well, the NEA thinks there is. It published an article at NEA Today on March 28, 2018 which addressed this issue:
“The Epidemic of Anxiety Among Today’s Students”
If anxiety really is an “epidemic,” if it’s really that serious, then shouldn’t we consider every possible option for resolving this issue?
The NEA may not want to face it, but homeschooling might just be the best choice.
Unfortunately, as Upton Sinclair discovered a long time ago:
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
Think about that one for a bit…
WHY THE KIDS ARE SO FULL OF ANXIETY
“Today’s teens and young adults are the most anxious ever, according to mental health surveys.”
Taking this assertion at face value, the next step is to identify the factors which are causing this situation.
According to the NEA article, there are five:
These five are listed right near the start of the article. But when you read further, you realize that there are actually only two categories of problems – not five. In fact, the gun issue never resurfaces. No evidence is ever provided to support it.
Bridgeport, Connecticut school psychologist Rob Benner breaks it down this way:
“I see two major issues. One is testing anxiety, and the other is anxiety over social media.”
SUMMARY OF MY ANALYSIS
So here is my outline::
Even though Mr. Benner doesn’t mention guns, I feel that it should be addressed because the article brings it up.
ANXIETY FACTOR #1 - Guns
Kathy Reamy, Chairwoman of the NEA School Counselor Caucus makes the claim that:
“kids can’t even feel safe in their schools—they worry genuinely about getting shot”
This last factor is never really elaborated upon in the article.
My guess is that it is mentioned in passing simply because the topic has been in the news recently.
Personally, not one of my students has ever mentioned this fear. It has never come up in my advisory sessions with students or in private conversations between classes or after school. When I asked my school guidance councelors if any student had ever mentioned fear of getting shot, all three said no student had ever mentioned this.
The fact that this claim is made without evidence to support it makes me believe that Ms. Reamy is simply revealing her bias. She is taking a cheap shot at the NRA because she knows that the NEA and many teachers are anti-gun. I can picture them all nodding their heads in approval at this comment.
ANXIETY FACTOR #2 - Tests
How important is the anxiety over tests?
Let’s consult Mr. Reamy again here:
“By high school, high-achieving students face overwhelming pressure to succeed. They have start taking the SATs in eighth grade. It’s so hard for the kids who are already maybe perfectionists, and they’re getting the first B in their lives and they’re fearful it’s going to prevent them going to college, any college, never mind their dream college.”
Can you empathize with these students – can you feel their pain? They have to deal with the pressure of wanting to be successful.
Terrible, isn’t it?
Maybe we should teach them that they don’t have to be successful. Wouldn’t that relieve the pressure and thus lesson anxiety?
ANXIETY FACTOR #3 – Social Media
How important is the anxiety over social media?
According to Ms. Reamy:
“Students are incredibly mean to each other on social media. They say things to a screen that they would never say face to face, things like ‘you should kill yourself.’ And many studies have found that increased social media use actually makes people feel more socially isolated. It also disrupts sleep, which is related to mental health.”
Ms. Reamy goes on to describe the specific situation with one of her students:
“I have one student who is completely addicted to social media and her phone. It was honestly preventing her from doing what she needed to do at school. So, now she leaves her phone in my office. She still comes between classes to check some things, and she’s got it for a solid hour at lunchtime. For her, it’s like an appendage, like her right arm!”
Reamy lets the kid leave the phone in her office to check in on it every so often?
Isn’t the word for that “enabling?”
Should this counselor really be enabling students in this fashion?
Not to belittle the fact that bullying does, indeed, go on through social media, but how about recommending that the student just leave that phone at home?
NEA ANXIETY SOLUTION #1 – Stress balls and such
So how does this NEA article suggest that we lessen anxiety?
Reamy suggests the following:
NEA ANXIETY SOLUTION #2 – More money.
As mental health issues get worse each year, Ms. Reamy is overwhelmed. While she has enough on her plate (“more than 325 students in her charge and acres of paperwork to complete each week”), the situation is even worse for others (“the national average is 491 students per counselor”).
Here is the suggested solution:
“School psychologists and counselors need more time to spend with one-on-one with students, but that’s difficult to find in these days of austerity.”
Here is my translation of this last statement.
“Trump and DeVos are mean people who are withholding money from school districts.”
HOMESCHOOLING TO THE RESCUE?
Homeschooling gets a bad rap in traditional educational circles. You can read an article here which summaries them pretty well.
But U.S. News and World Report suggests that, not only are home-schooled children well socialized, they are also more than prepared for college.
Home-Schooled Teens Ripe for College
Here are the highlights:
Seems to me that a well socialized and well prepared home-schooled child will be less prone to anxiety than a child who is constantly worried about:
CONCLUSION - Take Ms. Reamy's comment literally
“Despite the fact I go to high school every day, I often say, ‘I would not want to go back to high school. People don’t understand how hard it is to be a kid today.”
Maybe we should take Ms. Reamy at her word – literally.
Let’s tell the kids NOT to go back to high school – stay at home and learn.
Home schooling may very well prove to be the best way to solve not only the anxiety problem at school, but so much more.