"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Where Teacher Recruitment, Education Programs and the Economic Achievement Gap Meet

I often say how lucky I was to have gone to Fordham University’s Undergraduate School of Education in New York City during the late 1960s. We were the 60’s “Boomer” generation, raised during the quietly prosperous 1950s that became the idealist generation looking to save the world from itself. Many joined the Peace Corps to work with the poor across the globe, but many more joined what no one thought of as an American peace corps…the teaching profession. What better way to help those in need than to help them learn how to learn so they could build their lives?
Yes I, as well as most of my classmates, complained about what we knew were practically useless courses. But, we also knew how well we were introduced to the culture of NYC and our primarily minority future students. We took courses where we learned about how skin color affected relationships among Puerto Ricans (the largest Spanish speaking group in NYC at the time). Our 95% white classes read Piri Thomas’s “Down These Mean Streets” and the "Autobiography of Malcolm X." We did a semester of field work in the communities where we were to get jobs, and of course we student taught for a full semester in those communities. We also had courses in child psychology, and were instructed in methodology specifically for our subject and/or grade levels. Of course, not all of our professors were great, but after all it was college. We all know that college is often not the best place to find the best teachers, regardless of the subject or major.

How things have changed for today’s twenty-somethings thinking of becoming teachers! Economic conditions have worsened. Idealism has been replaced more and more by materialism. The public policy of high stakes standardized testing to evaluate students and teachers has poisoned the teaching profession. Common Core State Standards have stifled creativity. 

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