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Depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD are reaching "epidemic proportions" among Chicago Public School teachers who teach at schools in underserved communities according to clinical social worker Stephen Rosenbaum, who serves on the national board forClinical Social Workers Association (CSWA).
He is in contact with a network of twenty-one clinical social workers and psychiatrists in Chicago who discern a new pattern in cases involving CPS teachers.
Rosenbaum has treated hundreds of CPS teachers over the last twenty-five years who exhibit these symptoms, "but the numbers of clients who are CPS teachers report worsening symptoms during the last two years" as budget cuts, school closings, layoffs, mandated standardized testing, and teacher evaluations partially based on this standardized testing are implemented.
According to Rosenbaum,
constant disruption for teachers and students, and a more hostile work environment that pits principals who are under great pressure to institute reforms against teachers has led to an atmosphere of fear and alienation among teachers in lower performing schools especially.
These teachers worry about their students who face increasing difficult standardized tests, their evaluations, and the possibility of lower evaluations that can lead to transfers or termination. They are afraid to speak out against policies that they think harm kids because those who speak out are targeted for bad evaluations. As a result, more and more teachers experience utter hopelessness, worthlessness, and futility and are increasingly seeking clinicians for help.
"Suicidal ideation is not uncommon. We lost one CPS teacher to suicide this year, and many more are at risk," says Rosenbaum.