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New Gallup Poll Reveals More Than Half of Americans Believe Teachers Are Not Being Adequately Prepared to Handle Classroom Discipline

Poll Respondents Call for More Training, Supports and Increased efforts to foster a positive school environment

By Communities In Schools May 1, 2019



Arlington, Va. - May 1, 2019 - A new Gallup survey, commissioned by Communities In Schools, reveals that more than half of adults surveyed said teachers are not being prepared to effectively handle discipline issues in the classroom. Almost 30 percent of respondents said they were concerned that unsafe school or classroom environments would result from poorly handled discipline issues and 20 percent cited the disruption of learning as their top concern.    

The poll was released today at the 2019 Milliken Dialogues and Policy Summit, held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The Summit explored policies, research, and practices that can help schools address the underlying issues that affect student behavior through an integrated focus on social, emotional, and academic development. The innovative school practices being implemented across the country and policy recommendations discussed at the Summit were also published in a new Community Matters report which can be downloaded report here

“The number of people concerned about the handling of school discipline is sobering but not surprising,” said Dale Erquiaga, president and CEO of Communities In Schools. “This isn’t a failure on the part of our teachers, but rather a broken system that doesn’t support school staff to help kids who come to school with emotional and behavioral problems that are sometimes brought on by trauma in their homes and communities.” 

According to the Gallup survey, 90 percent of the general public felt that “increased efforts to foster positive school environment” and “more training for school administrators and teachers on discipline practices” were among the most effective school discipline strategies. Solutions that focus on the whole child, including more access to mental health services, and development of social and emotional skills were also all perceived as effective.  

In the newly released, Community Matters report, Communities In Schools lays out specific recommendations for state policies that can help create safer school environments. They include:  

  • Strengthening reporting requirements in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) by including both regular disaggregation and analysis of student behavior and discipline rate data; 

  • Establishing a statewide protocol for implementing integrated student supports; 

  • Including trauma recovery resources in crisis response; 

  • Including a non-academic needs assessment in Comprehensive Support and Improvement plans; 

  • Including a non-academic needs assessment for Targeted Support and Improvement plans.  

“Young people face a wide range of challenges and the burden of dealing with these challenges should not rest on their shoulders alone. Adults, from policymakers to classroom teachers play an important role to foster safe and productive learning environments,” said Tiffany Miller, vice president of policy at Communities In Schools. “Our organization is committed to partnering with schools and other youth-serving groups to provide supports that can address the needs of the whole child to help ensure that children are not unnecessarily missing critical classroom time because of underlying issues that present itself as behavioral issues in school.”       

A recorded livestream of the Milliken Dialogues and Policy Summit can be accessed here.   

About Gallup Methodology   

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted February 12-28, 2019 with a random sample of –1,000—adults, ages 18+, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.  For results based on this sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting. More details about how the Gallup U.S. Poll is conducted can be found here. 


About Communities In Schools

Communities In Schools (CIS) is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to empowering at-risk students to stay in school and on a path to a brighter future. Working directly inside more than 2,500 schools across the country, we connect kids to caring adults and community resources designed to help them succeed. We do whatever it takes to ensure that all kids—regardless of the challenges they may face—have what they need to realize their potential.

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