Follow by Email

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Teach for America

Teach for America is an organization founded because of a startling statistic--that only 10% of children living in poverty will graduate from college.  It's the real no child get's left behind program, because committed teaching is the only way that children will have an equalization of their opportunity to go to college --not rote memorization of test answers. Teach for America sends people to teach in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States.

Right now there are over 7,000 teach for America teachers, most of them recent college graduates who are still finishing teacher course work, but took a crash course on basics.  Others are already professional  teachers who choose to dedicate two years to teaching in poor areas.

Right now my niece, Sarah is one of the Teach for America student in New Orleans.  Here students are from nearby housing projects. She reports that not only are they poor, but universally they experience violence in their lives.  Many of the students in her school act out in aggressive ways.

The premise that the Bush administration put forward is that somehow the inequality in educational opportunity was happening because schools were ignoring the basic course work or teachers were not ready to teach it.  And that this could be fixed by standardized testing to make all students learn exactly the same thing.

The reality is that first, committed teaching and educational resources must be addressed.  Punishing schools for not doing well on standard tests actually further denies opportunities to children in poor areas.

Second poverty itself must be addressed, along with the drugs, gangs and broken families that make students act out in violence or threats of violence. One of the things that Dorothy Day taught is that poverty itself is a form of violence. And violence coming into the class room denies the educational opportunity to students.

I hope that teach for America grows and that it is accompanied by renewed and intensified community organizing  in the areas surrounding those schools to alleviate the poverty and violence.

No comments:

Post a Comment