One of the few things that can get a government union employee in a mandatory industry like education fired is hitting a student. Yet the link between increased tolerance and less accountability for students has correlated to increased violence by teachers. If there are no repercussions for behavior, behavior gets worse.

Everyone seems to know this except academic psychologists, who instead argue that grades are the problem. Don't want to be assaulted? Don't have accountability for any student who will suffer no lasting repercussions if they assault you while if you defend yourself you will be fired, go to jail, be sued, and vilified by the internet for eternity.

The logic behind their belief is, you guessed it, surveys. The authors compared survey responses of 9,363 between fall 2019 and March 2020, and during the 2020-2021 academic year, which means the COVID-19 pandemic. Surveys are a confounder in real science but fine for anyone in the social sciences who want to correlate anything and anything. The reasons are likely obvious but I'll lay them out. Your personal perception of how important grades are can't be quantified. Whether or not you were a victim of actual violence or verbal abuse or that of property is also too subjective to make a population-level claim. A slammed door might be property violence to one person while a shoved desk to another, while another may only consider it throwing something. When the pool of potential assaulters is expanded to parents, peers, and administrators and the definition of assault is whatever may trigger you, it is challenging to find anyone who can claim never to have been attacked.

Regardless of how fuzzy-wuzzy it all is - "some of the violence occurred over Zoom” during the pandemic, surveyed teachers said - the authors concluded that schools which focused on grades had more 'violence' directed at teachers. "It was when there’s this focus on grades and test scores – ‘you’ve got to get good grades, school is all about grades’ – that’s when kids acted out against teachers,” says Professor Eric Anderman, lead author at The Ohio State University.

Yet that doesn't add up. Just like weekly claims by environmental lawyer groups that some common safe chemical is 'linked' to cancer, where are the bodies? In the past there was solely focus on grades - government schooling was created to give students the minimum education they need to have competence in the world. No social justice, no cultural engineering, no California and Florida banning books they don't like because people they don't like want them in schools. Teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. Yet there was very little violence despite people failing grades.(1)

If grades are really linked to violence, it is going to be a Mad Max pedagogy future, because performance metrics are coming back in vogue. Yale and other institutions for wealthy elites that give at least a nod to minorities have found themselves going back to standardized tests. It turns out 20,000 high schools with 20,000 different ideas about an A or C student don't really show how qualified a student may be.

A neutral performance metric, derided by...wait for it...public schools as unfair and the big reason why they are so terrible at teaching anyone with challenges is now being embraced again.


(1) As circumstantial evidence, they note that half of teachers are unhappy. While this is true, half of every occupation are unhappy. Most people have to be paid to work and that means unhappiness. Any teacher with tenure went from a flawed arbitrary system to No Child Left Behind, which actually worked because it made sure basics were covered for all, to having that thrown out by the Obama administration and replaced with Common Core - which made everyone equal - equally unhappy. Teachers didn't like that they had a performance standard so now they have a bizarre framework centered around  “teachers believe all students can learn” rather than grades.