Saturday, October 17, 2009

Responsibility and Teachers

This post comes from Myra Sawyers, a former teacher and founding member of the Epic Project:

There are people who want to help build better education systems in America. In order to do that, you have to really know what is going on, and it's not pretty. It's actually kind of revolting.

Fewer and fewer qualified talented people are going to leave the profession, because the pay is sometimes not very good, and there are intractable problems.

Teachers take a lot of hits. I know, I have taken a few myself. We endure quite a bit in and out of the classroom. Most people know all about the challenges teachers face and talk about it but that is usually as far as it gets. This indifference has had its impact. Good or bad? The latter, I would argue.

I know there are teachers who are not doing a great job; just like there are doctors, lawyers, corporate executives (did I mention corporate executives?! phew, just checking...) who aren't and need to be fired. BUT (and I must emphasize this), there are far more great teachers then there are bad ones! (I will save that discussion for another time..)

In my many years of teaching in the classroom and on the college level, I have only come across one person who I would consider a "bad" teacher. However, bad publicity is having an impact on attitudes and perceptions. No one I know would disagree that teaching is not a respected profession; which it should be. Many parents and students have done very terrible things to teachers, and teachers have paid dearly(public humiliation, job loss, financial ruin, etc.).

I attached a link to a documentary film that a friend of mine is working on that is exposing "holding centers" for teachers in New York City. These centers are for teachers who have had allegations (true or false) made against them. Someone once called this place "Teachers Git-Mo". Funny? Not really...

Does this shock you? Why is this happening? Should these rooms exist? If a teacher is guilty, shouldn't they be fired? If a teacher is innocent, shouldn't they be put back in the classroom?

If we are going to change the school system and develop models that are really going to have an impact, then we have to pay attention and know what we are dealing with. There are monumental forces that are having a severe (and it's not all good!) impact on our children's lives. If we do not meet these forces head-on and challenge them, they will continue to maintain the status quo and our children and nation will pay the high price.

Oh, and did I mention the drop-out rate in New York is 52%...

What do you think happens to these kids?

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