Perhaps one of the most exciting times for me during my college career has been during the last few months. Within this time frame I have learned not only what school I will be doing my student teaching at, but also more about my cooperating teacher, school principal, and the overall school demographics. My biggest priority during this process was making sure that I was placed in a school of economic and academic need. I feel that all too often, these schools are forgotten about, to say the least. I have talked to many peers who would rather go back to life in the ‘burbs and teach at the “better” schools. I guess one could say, “to each their own”, but it is this very notion of running away from the children who need quality teachers the most that keeps them from becoming one of those “better” schools!
I am in no way placing blame on those who would indeed rather go back to the schools to be closer to their families, but when will we start to put human needs over individual preferences? Even in the stereotypical comfort of the suburbs, there are often schools of need located minutes away in the nearby urban city. So, I ask, why? Why do some see the dire need of certain students and turn a cheek in the other direction when it comes time to apply for jobs? Is it the students, parents, or neighborhoods? The students we work with cannot help into what SES they are born, nor can the dictate where they live or who will raise them. Why are some educators content with perpetuating the cycle of educational inequality by widening the gap between students who have access to the best of the best and those who are constantly given less than? Again, I understand that there are different factors that may motivate someone’s decision to work in a more affluent area. However, from interactions with my fellow pre-service teachers, I understand that many of those influences are based in a fear of the unknown, an unwillingness to see that even “those” students need good teachers too, a dangerous ignorance to the fact that educational disparities are not the fault of the children or parents but rather the institution of education as a whole.
We cannot continue to punish the students for a system that they did not create. We may not have created it either, but as adults, we all play a major role, whether we acknowledge it or not, in the continuation of this system of disadvantage. The question is…what will YOU do to make a difference? Even if you decide to work at a school that is not struggling academically or economically, your support is still needed to help other schools, teachers, and students who may not have what you do. We do not live in a bubble and our actions much show the compassion and concern that we have for other educators and students all over. I know I am young and lack much of the experience that many of you out there already have. However, if I have already started thinking about what I can do to make a difference, I know you can too! We’ve got a lot of work to do….so let’s get to it!!