|Thanks for joining me for the 2016 Slice of Life Story Challenge sponsored by the team at|
TWO WRITING TEACHERS. Check out more slices here.
The message touches, shocks, and enrages me. The subtext of such a text are some questions: "What kind of teachers do students deserve?" "What kinds of teachers do students perceive us to be?" "Why don't students see themselves as deserving of excellent teachers?"
Should we have one standard for some students and another standard for others? Should schools operate on a sliding scale that determines student and teacher placement in terms of excellence? Most troubling to me: What kind of teacher does my student think he deserves?
I texted back: "Every student deserves hard-working, amazing teachers."
That bears repeating: EVERY STUDENT DESERVES HARD-WORKING, AMAZING TEACHERS. Period. End of story.
As it happens, my student's question came the day Kelley Williams-Bolar's story cycled back through my FB feed. Bolar is the Ohio mom jailed for sending her children to a neighboring school district and using her father's address as her family's.
That Bolar's children did not have the option of attending a neighborhood school she, as a parent, judged as good as the one in her father's home district represents a national scourge. Bolar believes her arrest was racially motivated, and it's hard to argue with her given that poor, minority students disproportionately attend crumbling, resource challenged districts, and these districts have higher teacher turnover than their suburban counterparts given the dire working conditions.
To his credit, Ohio Governor Kasich reduced Bolar's sentence, but poor students across our nation continue living their school days in SEPARATE and UNEQUAL school districts. They are most likely to have TFA poorly trained teachers, new teachers who struggle to live in poverty themselves.
Dedicated teachers who have given their lives to serving poor students and working in blighted conditions rarely get the accolades and recognition they deserve. They, as their students, are treated as separate and unequal. I admire them and their commitment to teaching.
When I began teaching, I set a standard for myself: To be the kind of teacher I'd like to have and that I'd want my children to have. That's what every student deserves. I often fail to teach to my own standard, but in 35 years teaching, I haven't forgotten my mandate to myself.
Every student deserves excellent school facilities.
Every student deserves sufficient school supplies.
Every student deserves teachers they want to text, "Thank you for being the good teacher I deserve."