Re: NBPTS/Fleeing The Stigma
- Subject: Re: NBPTS/Fleeing The Stigma
- From: Deborah Meier <dmeier@ESSENTIALSCHOOLS.ORG>
- Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2000 18:27:25 -0400
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- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
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Judi--you missed Leo's point! He is not saying that city teachers aren't
better (or worse)--he was addressing whether they had been given the same
advantages in terms of class sizes, physical space, wages, leisure, and
more that teachers in richer communities have. Goodness, Judi, don;t you
think it was frustrating to Nick to hear from his sister Becky in
Williamstown about her circumstances. Both worked very hard and I think
there is no point in comparing them or saying who is better, works harder,
or deserves more credit. But by god I wish Nick and his kids had the
advantages that Williamstown, Mass offered Becky andher students.
>I disagree with much of what you have said. I can tell you some of the
>reasons why I think many of us who tech in inner cities are better than many
>of those who teach in the suburbs:
>1. we have to work harder because the students are not either homogenous or
>achieving as well as thae ones in the suburbs; this forces us to think
>2. we have to be more inventive and creative given less resources
>3. we have more stimulation around us in the arts, music, theater, dance,
>4. there are political groups in our cities which do not exist in the
>suburbs; we join these and bring our students along
>5. we are a diverse and alive entity, we are multicultural and not white
>bread and mayonnaise, so there's more to respond to
>6. the plight of our youth and their families makes political organizing
>necessary and easier than where everyone has what they need
>7. we need to share resources, so we work collaboratively
>8. we meet our students with less facade, so there's less space between us
>9.the kids relly appreciate what we do
>10. we get to learn so much from them
>11. there are many diverse viewpoints in the classrooms and lunchrooms so we
>get to learn a lot
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Dr. Leo Casey <LeoCasey@AOL.COM>
>Sent: Friday, June 30, 2000 8:33 AM
>Subject: NBPTS/Fleeing The Stigma
>> Forgive me, but I find some of this discussion just plain perverse.
>> First, I don't understand why folks insist upon leaping from their own
>> particular situation to a general rule: "I am a good teacher of inner city
>> school students, and I know other good teachers, so it must be generally
>> of teachers in the inner city." The general rule is precisely the sum of
>> the particulars, so exceptions to the rule do not disprove the rule. Hell,
>> would consider myself an exception to the rule: I taught for 15 years in
>> inner city high school, and did a damn good job under conditions which one
>> could only call less than optimal; so did many of my colleagues. But there
>> are a host of reasons why I was able to become a good teacher, which I
>> not bore anyone by recounting in detail here, and they DO NOT hold true
>> inner city teachers as a group. Moreover, those of us who choose to stay
>> teaching in the inner city out of a sense of vocation and calling,
>> higher salaries and better working conditions in order to labor where our
>> presence makes more of a difference, are clearly the exception as opposed
>> the rule.
>> We talk all the time about how the rather dramatic disparities of
>> and supports for inner city schools versus suburban schools has a very
>> powerful effect on the education inner city students -- poor and working
>> class students, students of color -- receive, and thus, on their ability
>> progress in their education and lives. We certainly know there are many
>> exceptions to that rule -- we build our professional lives around
>> and developing those exceptions -- but we also know, unless we are
>> pedagogical ostriches, that there are no suburban schools that have
>> approaching the dropout rate of the inner city high schools in Boston, New
>> York, Chicago, Atlanta and Oakland where we teach. We know -- or have to
>> pollyannish beyond belief -- that we are fighting against some pretty
>> odds. The educational political economy in this country is radically
>> polarized, and has radically polarizing effects.
>> Now, why should teachers in inner city schools be any different from
>> in inner city schools? Do we have some magic charm which protects us from
>> effects of this disparity in resources and supports? Does the fact that
>> of us are not of the same social class or same color as our students
>> us with some dispensation from the "laws" of the educational political
>> economy? Only in someone's dreams. Teachers in inner city schools are just
>> effected in their professional lives by the lack of proper resources and
>> proper supports as their students are effected in their educational lives.
>> The evidence here is quite clear and quite incontestable. One in every
>> teachers in New York City is not state certified [i.e., has not met the
>> minimum requirements for a state teaching license]; in suburban New York
>> school districts, there is virtually no one who falls into that category.
>> Those uncertified teachers are heavily and disproportionately concentrated
>> the lowest performing schools with the highest drop out rates. New York
>> teachers teach much larger classes, and many more students who are English
>> language learners and with special needs, in buildings that are in poor
>> disrepair, and with outdated books and materials. The Internet revolution
>> still something most inner city schools read about, and the most recent
>> advance in learning technology is the VCR.
>> Now if you first select teachers for suburban schools among those who have
>> the best preparation to teach, and you then give them far better supports
>> resources to develop as teachers, why the hell would anyone expect that
>> anything else but that, as a group, they will be better teachers? And why
>> would an assessment of teaching skills not reflect that? It is not because
>> they are necessarily more intelligent
>> or superior in some intrinsic way; it is because they have every
>> not only is this not a level playing field, it has all the topographical
>> features of a mountain climb from our side.
>> Why do I get so exercised over this? Because to deny this reality is to
>> aid and comfort to the obscene defenders of the status quo in this
>> educational political economy, the Chester Finns and William Bennetts who
>> that this incredible inequality is irrelevant and it does not matter how
>> resources and support you supply to schools. Of course it matters, and of
>> course it has real effects. The only thing that should surprise anyone is
>> much is accomplished in so many inner city schools despite all of this
>> Dickensian class division.
>> So suburban teachers, as a group, do better on the NBPTS -- why in God's
>> would anyone expect anything else?
>> Leo Casey
>> United Federation of Teachers
>> 260 Park Avenue South
>> New York, New York 10010-7272 (212-598-6869)
>> Power concedes nothing without a demand.
>> It never has, and it never will.
>> If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
>> Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation are men
>> want crops without plowing the ground. They want rain without thunder and
>> lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its waters.
>> -- Frederick Douglass --
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