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Tag Archives: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Five jobs—includes teachers—that come with the threat of regret

Taylor Dupuy writing for Monster.com listed five jobs that are likely to leave people disappointed. Number three on the list was Secondary School Teachers—my job for twenty-seven of the thirty years I was in the classroom.

Regret also means: anguish; annoyance; bitterness; disappointment; discomfort, dissatisfaction; etc.  All emotions I felt one or more times during my thirty years in the classroom.

Dupuy says: “would-be teachers often don’t fully understand what the job involves until after they have started.”

Teachers starting out—often naïve idealists who think they’re going to make a big difference—have no idea of the paperwork required of an educator “as well as the unending parent interventions and the reluctance of students to do the work. [They don’t] realize the politics of working in a secondary school system.”

The challenges teachers face is daunting: “The education profession is often marred by a lack of resources, dwindling support, and modest salaries … teachers must simultaneously parent and counsel all while navigating the stressful terrain often found in the bureaucracy of school districts.”

This risky environment may also explain why teachers have a high risk of PTSD. “The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder estimates 7.8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, with women twice as likely as men to have PTSD.”

Due to the reality of what happens in the public school classroom, teachers are at a higher risk of PTSD. Joel Hood (Chicago Tribune/MCT) reported: “teachers may be more susceptible than most, … particularly those in tough, urban schools where violence is commonplace … (and) many teachers who suffer from PTSD see their careers significantly altered.”

The American Society for Ethics in Education says, “post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) appears to impact a significant number of teachers in our schools.”

How many teachers might suffer from PTSD? Teresa McIntyre, a psychology research professor at the University of Houston says, “Teachers don’t have one or two traumatic events; it’s a chronic daily stress that accumulates over days and months and years. It’s pretty equivalent in other high-risk occupations.”

In a pilot study conducted of 50 teachers in four Houston-area middle schools, Ms. McIntyre found as many as one in three teachers in the Houston district were “significantly stressed,” with symptoms ranging from concentration problems, fatigue and sleep problems.

If one in three teachers have PTSD symptoms, that means 33% compared to the national average of 7.8%. How does this compare to combat veterans? The findings from the NVVR Study (National Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Study) commissioned by the government in the 1980s initially found that for “Vietnam theater veterans” 15% of men had PTSD at the time of the study and 30% of men had PTSD at some point in their life … [and] at least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD and/or Depression. (Veterans and PTSD)

A National Survey of Violence Against Teachers reported: “Teacher victimization was examined across all teachers surveyed (see Table 1). Results indicate that approximately half (50.9%; n = 2,410) of all teachers surveyed reported at least one form of victimization within the current or previous year. Nearly half of all teachers experienced at least one harassment offense, followed by over one-third experiencing property offenses, and over one-quarter reporting physical attacks. Moreover, 1 in 5 teachers reported being victimized at least once within all three offense domains.”

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to kill Americans.

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Due Process – Part 4/4

Once a teacher has job protection and has taught more than two or three years without being found incompetent, it is reasonable to assume that a teacher may be the victim of slander or there may be another compelling reason why a teacher that was found competent for years or decades suddenly appears incompetent.

According to Personal Injury Lawyer.com, “Defamation is defined as an untrue statement which causes you to be held in contempt or ridicule and as a result causes you damages.… Truth is a very good defense. It may prove an unshakable defense if you have unlimited funds to pay lawyers to defend it.”

This is where the teachers union steps in and provides the legal protection to defend a teacher that may be innocent of incompetence.

In fact, when a veteran teacher is accused of incompetence after being in education for decades and earning positive annual reviews, he may be a victim of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which The American Society for Ethics in Education says is, “The Hidden Epidemic in our Nation’s Schools. While formal studies have yet to be undertaken, post traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) appears to impact a significant number of teachers…”


How Does PTSD Affect Brain Function?

In addition, Heal My PTSD says there is job protection for those that are suffering from this trauma. “In many instances, time off to deal with a medical condition is covered under the government’s FMLA law. If your employer meets the criteria and you are willing to do the paperwork, the law may protect you from losing your job when you need time off.”

In the case of a teacher that appears to be incompetent while really suffering from job related stress and PTSD, it becomes a disability, which the Veteran Administration recognizes for combat veterans.

Instead of conducting a witch-hunt and attempting to remove job protection for teachers, the critics of public education should be offering the same support our military combat veterans receive for stress related job injuries such as PTSD.

If these religious/political critics are unwilling to do this, then we should be asking who is behind this assault on public school teachers and why?

The truth may be that incompetent parents are the reason students do not learn, but how do you fire an incompetent parent?

Return to Due Process – Part 3 or start with Part 1

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

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Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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