The New Yorker tells it like it is. If there is a societal problem, blame teachers. After all, if people do not behave properly, achieve well enough, shift easily from one set of societal expectations to another, then teachers did not prepare students well enough for the future. Not so!
The solution to societal ills for so many educational reformers, Denby reports, is to bash teachers and their unions. The reality is that no one knows how to solve the problems of persistent poverty that create some schools in which all children struggle to learn. Attacking these schools and their teachers, instead of the poverty that creates them, makes things worse.
If teachers are given no respect, and their schools are labeled as failing, then how are students and their families to value schools and the education they offer? Yet, children who see nothing different than the hopelessness people feel, create a survival culture for the world in which they live. Instead, children need to see opportunities for a different life and realize what schools can offer them.
I remember my own children talking about ‘skill sets’ that they needed to carry with them to an uncertain future. They recognized skills in other people and made them their own. The real dilemma is how to help children know what skills they need when no one around them sees a future.
Our schools should mirror a society that offers a future that touches each child. Then teachers can help students achieve what children see is possible because they live in a world where these possibilities exist. Teachers cannot create those schools; communities must. Read Denby’s article.