overall quality of life (such as not getting along with their parents, not being happy at
school, not feeling safe, and being bored, sad or getting into trouble a lot) are more
likely to give lower ratings to their education and to not feel very confident that they
will achieve their goals for the future. Furthermore, low-income students are more
likely to have a low quality of life. Interestingly, minority students are more likely
than non-minority students to feel very confident about achieving their goals and to
believe that they will have more money, job opportunities, time for family and activ-
ities and happiness than their parents.
Challenges for Teachers
What are the issues that teachers face in preparing students for the 21st century? One
area of contention is the nature of their role. Teachers are somewhat divided as to
whether parents, students or teachers are most responsible for a student's getting a
good education, or whether parents or teachers are most responsible for a student's
safety. In addition, teachers are faced with high levels of student distrust. Four in
ten secondary school students trust their teachers only a little or not at all, and low-
income and minority students are more likely than others to have little or no trust for
teachers. Lack of trust is one of the reasons most frequently given by students as to
why they would not go to teachers for advice or help.
Many students also feel alienated from school: three in ten feel left out of things
going on around them at school and four in ten feel that what they think doesn't
count very much at school. Teachers are aware of some of these feelings, even over-
estimating the proportion of students who hold the latter view. Teachers are also
faced with many parents who feel alienated from their children's school -- a feeling
that increases markedly from the elementary to secondary school years.
These factors all may contribute to a lack of optimism among teachers. Only
two in ten teachers are very confident that their students will achieve their goals for
the future and only slightly more than half believe that schools will provide a better
education during their students' lifetime. This apparent pessimism also emerges in
teachers' expectations concerning students attending college and the range of their
future careers. Yet these views may in fact reflect a realism lacking in parents' and
Junior and senior high school students feel confident in achieving their goals and feel
well-prepared on several academic fronts. They believe in the importance of educa-
tion and most plan to go to college. Parents' and teachers' views are more tempered.
Today's teens are concerned with issues such as people getting along together and
having jobs that allow time for personal and family activities. Yet the adults in their
lives are not aware of these concerns. In so many areas addressed in this survey,
teachers, students and parents have divergent outlooks on the same issues. Their
"competing voices" are highlighted throughout this report. Dialogue between par-
ents and teachers, as well as discussions among teens and the adults in their lives, to
increase understanding of each other's expectations, experiences and concerns may be
important steps to better prepare teens for their futures.