A major finding of the current survey is the gap that exists among the views of
teachers, students and parents on such important issues as responsibility and students'
sources of support for academic and emotional situations. The Metropolitan Life
Survey of the American Teacher, 1988
foreshadowed this result, finding that teachers'
and students' views greatly diverged with respect to violence and drug use among stu-
dents. The 1994 survey found that this lack of communication could have serious
results. Students who had been victims of violence were least likely to discuss per-
sonal problems and conflicts with teachers or their parents.
For teens today, the issue of people getting along together is very important -
they are most likely to say that having people get along with each other is the most
important issue facing America today. Can schools address this concern? The 1996
survey found that schools could play a role. Students who said their teachers did a
good job of teaching tolerance were more likely than those who said their teachers
did a poor job to report that students from different backgrounds got along very or
somewhat well at their school.
On a positive note, this year's survey finds that teens today have great hopes for
the future. Most plan to attend a four-year college. But many parents and students
worry a lot about having enough money to pay for college, and half of teachers say
that most or some of their students who have the aptitude to go to college, might not
be able to go because of the cost of a college education. The 1993 survey revealed
that three-quarters of teachers strongly supported creating a college loan program in
which those who borrow pay back either with a percentage of their income or
through community service.
However, secondary school teachers today believe that nearly half of their stu-
dents will not be going to college after they leave high school. Furthermore, only
one-quarter of teachers give their school an "A" in preparing students in learning
about different jobs and careers. As early as 1989, the MetLife series has shown the
concern among teachers for this area. Three-quarters of teachers thought that pro-
viding more direct links to job training and jobs would help a lot in students' transi-
tion to work and more than a third of secondary school teachers said that they would
most like to see job training have added funding in their school.
Thus, the findings from The Metropolitan Life Survey of the American Teacher,
in conjunction with the results from this series during the past sixteen years,
reveal many areas in which teachers, parents and schools can better prepare students
for the 21st century.