Sunday, March 18, 2012

Teach for America, Poverty, and Governor Malloy

In today's Hartford Courant, which if you are asking me, has a terrible education section, three opinion pieces appear that have me feeling ambivalent at best, aloof at worst.
The first one praises the possibility of bringing in Teach For America into my school district. The second, written by a teacher at one of Connecticut's wealthiest districts, West Hartford, cautions that poverty is the true underlying issue in school success or failure. And the third gets at the constant demoralization of teachers that seems to be at the heart of our Education Governor, Dannel Malloy's, and our Secretary of Eduaction, Arne Duncan's education reform movement.
Teach For America promises more than it can deliver. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have some merit. Tough schools need teachers who can pretty much sacrifice their life to find a modicum of success. But even with TFA'ers in place, they still have to confront the realities of a poorly run school and poorly run district--which is run by a highly over-rated Special Master who accomplished very little in Hartford Public Schools.
Never-the-less, adding TFA'ers to the mix can't hurt, and I'd be glad to help them acclimate to my building.
Poverty is debilitating if a person allows it to do just that. That a teacher in a ridiculously wealthy school district recognizes this makes me feel supported. Unfortunately, Governor Malloy and his Blame the Teacher Tour doesn't care much to listen to real educators, instead taking his marching orders from President Obama and Arne Duncan in their lofty rhetoric that sounds really good when read off of a telemprompter--in all three cases, they would be rated as ineffective teachers and lose their jobs if they were held to type of standards in their current positions as they want me to be held to in mine.
But the reality remains despite poverty, some schools are finding success. KIPP, SEED, Cristo Rey, and others examined in David Whitman's Sweating the Small Stuff, prove that with the right format, and the right support, we can do better with students of poverty.
At the moment, I pretty much hate teaching. Not because I hate interacting with students, or because I care one whit what some moron commenting on any of the listed articles thinks about me or my profession. I hate teaching at the moment because educated people are buying into the demoralization. That the governor of any state, especially one of the most well educated ones in the country (Connecticut), could ever utter the belief that to earn tenure "the only thing you have to do is show up for four years."
Quite frankly, the whole mess is absurd. So why care? Why bother getting worked up and angry about what Governor Malloy and his ignorant cronies think? Why care whether TFA or some bum off the street walks in next year to teach at my school? Why concern myself with the income level of my students? I think I'll just show up, or not. In the end, I serve no greater purpose than providing talking points, both good and bad, to people wishing to get elected.

UPDATE VIA this image of how Connecticut (Malloy) is spending 1 million dollars to "help" Windham Public Schools:


At 6:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Appropriately cynical. And simultaneously on point. Bravo!


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