This blog welcomes readers who believe that No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top, and Every Student Succeeds Act are misguided educational reform policies that rely too heavily on standardized test scores that are too focused on punitive measures against local schools. This is also the diary of Jesse Turner's 2010/15 walks to Washington DC from Connecticut, and his occupation of the DOE in DC with United Opt Out, and his opposition to public school choice policies without equity.
My Year Volunteering As A Teacher Helped Educate A New Generation Of Underprivileged Kids
BY MEGAN RICHMOND, VOLUNTEER TEACHER
When I graduated college last year, I was certain I wanted to make a real difference in the world. After 17 years of education, I felt an obligation to share my knowledge and skills with those who needed it most.
After this past year, I believe I did just that. Working as a volunteer teacher helped me reach out to a new generation of underprivileged children in dire need of real guidance and care. Most of these kids had been abandoned by the system and, in some cases, even by their families, making me the only person who could really lead them through the turmoil.
Was it always easy? Of course not. But with my spirit and determination, we were all able to move forward.
Those first few months were the most difficult of my life. Still, I pushed through each day knowing that these kids really needed the knowledge and life experience I had to offer them. In the end, it changed all of our lives.
In some ways, it's almost like I was more than just a teacher to those children. I was a real mentor who was able to connect with them and fully understand their backgrounds and help them become the leaders of tomorrow.
Ultimately, I suppose I can never know exactly how much of an impact I had on my students, but I do know that for me it was a fundamentally eye-opening experience and one I will never forget.
Can We Please, Just Once, Have A Real Teacher?
BY BRANDON MENDEZ, JAMES MILLER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENT
You've got to be kidding me. How does this keep happening? I realize that as a fourth-grader I probably don't have the best handle on the financial situation of my school district, but dealing with a new fresh-faced college graduate who doesn't know what he or she is doing year after year is growing just a little bit tiresome. Seriously, can we get an actual teacher in here sometime in the next decade, please? That would be terrific.
Just once, it would be nice to walk into a classroom and see a teacher who has a real, honest-to-God degree in education and not a twentysomething English graduate trying to bolster a middling GPA and a sparse law school application. I don't think it's too much to ask for a qualified educator who has experience standing up in front of a classroom and isn't desperately trying to prove to herself that she's a good person.
I'm not some sort of stepping stone to a larger career, okay? I'm an actual child with a single working mother, and I need to be educated by someone who actually wants to be a teacher, actually comprehends the mechanics of teaching, and won't get completely eaten alive by a classroom full of 10-year-olds within the first two months on the job.
How about a person who can actually teach me math for a change? Boy, wouldn't that be a novel concept!
I fully understand that our nation is currently facing an extreme shortage of teachers and that we all have to make do with what we can get. But does that really mean we have to be stuck with some privileged college grad who completed a five-week training program and now wants to document every single moment of her life-changing year on a Tumblr?
For crying out loud, we're not adopted puppies you can show off to your friends.
Look, we all get it. Underprivileged children occasionally say some really sad things that open your eyes and make you feel as though you've grown as a person, but this is my actual education we're talking about here. Graduating high school is the only way for me to get out of the malignant cycle of poverty endemic to my neighborhood and to many other impoverished neighborhoods throughout the United States. I can't afford to spend these vital few years of my cognitive development becoming a small thread in someone's inspirational narrative.
But hey, how much can I really know, anyway? I haven't had an actual teacher in three years.
The Walking Man reply:
Welcome to the education reformer drive-by-teaching world
Imagine a world full of drive by teachers
A world, where teachers take shortcuts to the classroom,
A world where teachers are labeled highly qualified after attending a
five-week summer crash course on teaching,
A world, where teachers want to move on after a year, or two,
A world where your children are stepping stones to something more,
Welcome to teaching world our education reformers dream of for your
Welcome to teaching world
of teaching that took 150 years to build
world where teachers take that more difficult traditional road the classroom,
road that requires:
least five years hard work, Real dedication,
large amounts of time in real classrooms in course related field experiences,
a rigorous student teaching assignment under the supervision of a teacher,
multiple licensing exams the old fashion,
world where the teachers dream of teaching children for the next 35 years,
world where teachers see the classroom as something more,
world without drive by teachers,
is the world education reformers want to destroy.
thinking anything less than the hard road to teaching is better.
which teachers teach their children?
to the SOS People's Education convention,
The Walking Turner
Over 30-years later I am still inspired by the faces in my classroom, and baffled by the views of our nation's policy makers and politicians on education.
The Walking Man is listening on his walk is listening to Bruce Springsteen "Rocky Ground" as he gets ready for the SOS People's Education Convention.