So, you know, I've been teaching in Philly for the past school year. Now, I've had significant experience, compared to some, teaching and working with kids in an inner-city setting and there's something that really disturbs me about the SD's 'attitude' or philosophy about what an effective teacher looks like. Literally looks like.
When did we sacrifice competence? Lord knows I've seen plenty of crappy teachers both white and otherwise. I'm not sure when having a 51% minority teacher rate as a goal became a good thing, or an admirable achievement. Wouldn't it be an improvement to find good, passionate, loyal educators who want to learn and do better regardless of what they look like or where they grew up? Look. I get it....I'll be the first to admit that our educational system favors one socioeconomic class over another. That the challenges my kids face at only 5 and 6 years old would be enough to put me in bed for a good 9 months doped up on prozac or something. And these kids come in every day....it's not an easy road, for sure. But to say that a child would learn better from a teacher who physically resembles them? How about just to have a teacher that actually cares about you? How about a teacher who gives you a hug in the morning because there's nobody else who will?? How about a teacher who encourages to do better than is expected? I'm just saying that if the SD spent a little more time and money invested in quality teachers...I don't know. It just seems counter-productive. Give me $500,000.00 a year and I'll come up with some awesome ideas as well. And my kids don't have pencils or any more paper to write on? Puh-lease. Just another cog....
As you see, this is my new soap-box. And here is my solution.
1. Parent education. There are like, two things parents could do to help their kids significantly. Read to them, put them to bed on time. Done.
2. Invest in early education. Basic literacy skills are so important. Unfortunately, the SD doesn't appear to care all that much unless a kid is in a testing year. And trust me from experience, it's easier to teach a kindergartner how to read than it is to teach a 3rd grader.
3. Spend a little time letting teachers know that they are valuable. And no...asking me to make a dish to bring in to a teacher appreciation potluck doesn't suffice. And neither does a lame memo. Treat our time like it's valuable. Give us the training and encouragement to do what we've been hired to do.
That's it. Where's my big old salary and my fancy Mercedes? Let's go, people...enough with the band-aids and the excuses and the scape-goats. Let's actually get something done for a change!