Justice for Who?

Another day, another report outlining how black and latino kids are getting screwed by our education system in the Commonwealth.
While the Boston papers are writing glowing tributes to the next President of the Boston Teachers Union and the heart-wrenching search for the next headmaster of the exam school that educates mostly the white elite in the city of Boston, the real news about education and the problems impacting the majority of the children in the city is once again barely worth a mention. 
This new report released by DESE on Monday was important for about 5 minutes before it fell out of the newscasts on NPR and the front page of the Boston papers to make room for "more important news":
Black and Latino students are 50 percent more likely than their white peers to be taught by inexperienced teachers and are three times more likely to have teachers who are not highly qualified in their subjects, a new state education report found.
The report states that high-poverty and high-minority schools employ first-year teachers at more than twice the rate of wealthier, white schools. The rate is 11.4 percent and 11.1 percent compared with 5.3 percent and 5.0 percent.
It also indicated that Latino and black students are more than three times as likely as white students to be assigned to an out-of-field teacher — a teacher that isn’t highly qualified in a given subject.
Poor kids are 71 percent more likely to have teachers rated as unsatisfactory by the state teacher evaluation system than wealthier students. The data show that over the past three years, 7.2 percent of poor kids were assigned to unsatisfactory teachers, while only 4.2 percent of richer kids were.
Just want to take a moment to again point out that in Boston alone, 44% of the kids are Latino. 31% are African-American.
That’s just Boston. 
Here’s another look at the result these inexperienced teachers are getting for these kids:

 (Getting tired of me posting these crappy numbers? Too bad.)
Wouldn’t it make sense for cities like Boston to take a look at the system and say, "These are the kids who need the most resources in our city based on their socio-economic conditions and the data that shows up they are in underperforming schools. Let’s give them our best to pull these numbers out of the toilet. These are the schools that need our most experienced teachers because these children need educators who are highly-qualified in their subjects if we are really going to make an impact on the achievement gap."
But of course, that’s not how this works at all. It’s not about what kids need — it’s about what adults want and feel like doing.

I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about how we put the wants of adults ahead of the needs of children, and of course, this is a perfect example of how this plays out for children who are falling through the cracks. More specifically, black and brown children in low income areas.
As a side note and from a personal perspective, this is especially troubling as I’ve seen the consequences of a lack of qualified teachers being placed in the right place with the right kids first hand. My path to education advocacy came right through the wake of an inexperienced teacher who refused to fully implement my son’s IEP and didn’t have the skills or the experience to deal with a child with ADHD in her classroom.
At five-years-old my kid was suspended and sent home dozens of times because his inexperienced, first-year teacher didn’t have the skills needed to accommodate him — and suddenly her ineptitude became his fault and denied him access to the classroom experience he was legally entitled to. (And yes, I fought the district to have him assigned to a more experienced teacher who was capable of working with a child like mine and was denied.) And hence, a union organizer died and an EduMom was born. 
We don’t assign the teachers we hire to the schools where they are needed. Instead, teachers are allow to pick where they feel like teaching based on seniority. Bumping rights trump everything. So the years of investment we make into providing resources to the system to create teams of highly skilled educators in the end does little to nothing to impact the kids in the areas where we really need them.
The way parents see it, if you are a highly-skilled Boston teacher (and most of whom are now making over $100k per year,) the city of Boston should have the right to assign you to the school where your skills are needed. But for some reason we’ve got this all backwards — and instead of being able to assign teachers where they are needed, the teachers mostly get to pick where they feel like going, because JUSTICE.
Somehow we’ve allowed our education system to devolve into a bureaucracy that places priority around the adults instead of the children. And we wonder why we get the results we get?
What do you think?

More Comments

%d bloggers like this: