If socioeconomic status is a primary driver of academic performance, and if student achievement suffers in high-poverty schools, why do we continue to organize schools in a way that predetermines some for failure and then blame teachers?
There are ways we can make education better for all students — socioeconomic school integration, investing in early childhood education, providing the wraparound services students need — but a myopic focus on teacher quality won’t fundamentally improve schools.
There have been quite a number of articles* within the recent year that have been appropriately critical of the field of education, specifically in the United States. Much of the tension amongst teachers that I know of have to do with the implementation of Danielson’s Rubric for Teacher Evaluation — a new system with twenty or some odd number of components teachers must meet.
For those of us working in schools rich with the background and culture of low-income, high poverty ridden students, meeting such standards becomes complicated. One of the reasons I thoroughly appreciate the article quoted from above (“I Taught at the Worst School in Texas” by John Savage), is because he gives such a detailed description of what many teachers encounter on a daily basis. The inner city stereotype extends itself to a vast scope of schools across the U.S. and isn’t something that has been resolved with just teachers.
I do what I can, within the time and energy I have.
I am willing to plan and teach three different sets of curriculum simultaneously, willing to find my materials, willing to support the non-academic needs of the school, willing to counsel students about college, willing to get into more debt, willing to fulfill the state mandate that requires me to get a masters degree, willing to love my students. But I cannot help to ask what you (whatever you is— society, government, school systems, friends) will do in supporting teachers like me, when we try to do what we will while faced with students who show up twice a year, parents who watch porn with their children, parents who never show up, fights in the classroom, fights in the office, no money to sign up for the SATs…. what then?
I have already accepted whatever evaluation determines my future and yet, the problem persists.