DALLAS -- The shooting last week of a Texas high school football coach -- allegedly by a player's father -- was just the latest example of the threats and assaults that teachers across the country say they are being subjected to by parents.
''I know teachers really feel they're in a pressure cooker," said Aimee Bolender, president of Alliance/AFT, a Dallas teachers union. ''The respect for authority has definitely changed. Teachers are no longer respected in general."
In Philadelphia in September, a woman slapped a teacher three times in the face after he told her she needed to get a late slip for her daughter, state officials say.
In Dallas on April 1, police say, a woman stormed into a classroom, grabbed a teacher's hair, and punched her and kicked her after the teacher scolded the woman's daughter for loitering outside a locker. The mother is herself a teacher in Dallas.
Educators attribute the growing number of assaults and arguments, in part, to a general decline in civility and the intense competition to get into certain colleges.
Lisa Jacobson, chief executive of the tutoring and test preparation business Inspirica, said teachers have told her they are overwhelmed by pushy parents.
''They feel like the parents come in as CEOs and order them around," Jacobson said. ''I've seen many cases of parents going into schools and coercing teachers to change grades."
Also, many parents are more stressed than they used to be and may be more likely to lash out at their children's teachers, said Doug Fiore, a Virginia elementary school principal who cowrote a book for teachers called ''Dealing With Difficult Parents."
Last Thursday, Canton High School coach Gary Joe Kinne was shot and wounded in the school's field house. Jeffrey Doyle Robertson, 45, was charged with aggravated assault on a public servant.
Robertson, whose son played on Kinne's team, was known for run-ins with the coaching staff.
Many educators say they have seen an unmistakable rise in tensions.
Lee Alvoid, a retired principal in suburban Dallas, said that toward the end of her 32-year career, parent-teacher conferences had become so tense that she sometimes asked security guards to stand outside her office.
The Issaquah school district outside Seattle adopted a ''civility policy" in 2001 to teach everyone how to communicate courteously because conversations were becoming more confrontational.
And the Texas High School Coaches Association may adopt a conflict resolution program, said D.W. Rutledge, executive vice president.
''If it's in society, it's going to be in our schools," Rutledge said.