Once again social ills cannot be blamed on teachers. I am training a student teacher (I am in the room at all times) this summer from a prestigious institution in the Houston area. She is white, as am I. She comes from an upper middle class family, while I grew up poor and on welfare for six years of my young life.
The school district is in an urban area of the city. There are only two white students in a class of 23, along with an even mixture of black and Hispanic students. The first semester of summer school not one student failed the course, even though we had many at-risk along with a few special needs students in the class room. The students come from many socioeconomic backgrounds. Some work until 2 am to help support their families. Some are from middle class families, while others live in poverty. They are all capable, some are just a little further behind academically than others, because of their at birth starting point. This should be an expectation any one with common sense would have.
We don’t care what color they are. We treat them all the same. We may use different learning approaches with each individual student, but the class room is a dynamic student friendly environment that allows all students to be successful. Some students are further behind other students in knowledge and other educational attributes, but that would be expected, even in an all white small town, where there are trailer homes, modest homes and mansions. No one would say teachers are responsible for failing those children from the trailer park, now would they? Most smart people would understand that children who come from affluent households have better educational opportunities from birth than do those from the poor side of town.
In this class room we can and have been able to take whatever baseline a student of any color starts from and show them a successful educational path. Student’s who start out further behind their cohorts may have to work a little harder to catch up, but just because they start out at a different baseline doesn’t mean they aren’t capable. However, ultimately it is the student’s early upbringing that establishes that baseline that all teachers must work from. Teacher’s don’t fail black students, our government and politicians do (Isn’t this the group edrefomers come from?).
With pre-kindergarten for all, especially those with the highest economic need we wouldn’t have this problem to begin with. Will health care for all we wouldn’t have undiagnosed health issues that directly affect student learning. With free educational opportunities for the parents of these low socioeconomic students we wouldn’t have this issue. With an major increase in the minimum wage (you know one that actually kept up with inflation) those jobs they are working at now would pay $22.50 an hour, instead of the below poverty level $7.50 an hour we currently have. Wouldn’t just those four things alone set up these students on a more equal educational baseline?
Teachers don’t determine their wages. Teachers don’t determine governmental programs. Teachers don’t decide what a failing school is. Ed-reformers, some of whom are really hedge funders in disguise, along with the help of the DOE (Arne Duncan= hedge funder) and politicians are making sure inner city students, especially black students, are appearing to be failing with smoke and mirrors. The true failure is underfunding of public education and the diverting of those funds to the ed-reformers to start for profit schools, which in reality fail all kids, not just those of color. Teach For America is also to blame for many inexperienced teachers (5 weeks of training before teaching, really?) being in the those inner city class rooms and hurting those children even more.
Teachers do a hell of a job considering the circumstances they find themselves in. How many in the corporate world use their own money for supplies that students need? How many in the corporate world take items from home and use them to help those who have little? How many in the corporate world have put their arm around a crying child to let them know someone is there for them? The people who blame teachers for black students failing or public school issues in general are part of the problem.