Why Conflict Resolution Education Matters

Teaching conflict education to pre-service and in-service teachers addresses urban education’s dual crises of teacher attrition and unsafe learning environments. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that about one-third of new teachers leave the profession within five years (NCES, 1997). This problem is especially significant in urban education environments, where teacher turnover is 50 percent higher in high-poverty than in low-poverty schools (Ingersoll, 2001). One reason teachers leave is that they feel they cannot create a constructive learning environment or help students do the same. But, if teachers are taught conflict resolution education and can impart these skills and knowledge to their students, they can help students create a safe, caring and constructive community that enhances the teachers’ ability to teach and students’ ability to learn.

Several studies have demonstrated that CRE programs create a positive classroom climate, enhance academic learning, and encourage supportive and nurturing relationships between teachers and students (Aber et al, 2003). We now have solid data on the link between CRE and academic achievement. A new book titled Building School Success through Social and Emotional Learning reports that students’ social-emotional competence fosters better academic performance (Zins, Weissberg, Wang, & Walberg, 2004). When students are more self-aware, more emotionally connected, and better able to create safe learning environments, they can focus on academics and achieve success in a supportive environment.

However, pre-service education programs do not include sufficient content on CRE for adequate teacher preparation. The CRETE Project was designed to fill this gap. The CRETE project has created and tested a CRE component for use in pre-service education. The success of CRETE provides a strong curriculum and protocol available and adaptable for use in institutions of post-secondary education throughout the US.