by thea marie
What's on my mind....
|Detroit to remove teachers, administrators from 4 schools, restructure them
Schools are a reflection of the society within which they operate. They service the members of the community in which exist. All the restructuring, rearranging, renaming, re-whatevering won't work unless the DPS students and parents buy into and become an active, productive part of the process. Addressing the problem from the angle of moving teachers and administrators out is for show. Changing the curriculum is probably a viable idea, but is that really going help ? It won’t if students and parents don’t make some changes themselves.
I spent 21 years as a teacher, then an administrator in DPS, which was an experience that prepared me to successfully work within any system. However, toward the end of my time in the system, I was disillusioned and beaten down by the shift I could see from the motivated, engaged, and involved students we had when I first started teaching to a more apathetic, social, and in some cases, combative clientele. I went from feeling like an educator to feeling as if all I was doing was keeping the lid on the pot. And this was at one of the city’s best magnet schools at the time. When I first started teaching in the late 70’s, early 80’s, we knew the parents because they made themselves known. They were interested in what we were doing with their kids. The children lived up to the expectations their parents and their teachers had for them. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a much more pleasant and productive time.
When I left the system in the late 90’s, the neighborhood was changing, as was the type of kids we were getting. By then, the only time we saw the majority of our parents were for Parent-Teacher Conferences, when they got called in for a conference, or when they were there to complain about something related to their child or about a teacher. The kids were fighting each other, disrespecting their teachers, and we had a couple of cases where parents came in to the building to confront teachers. We cut out requiring summer reading because of complaints about kids having to “work on school” over the summer. Many teachers stopped assigning homework. It was demoralizing to have so few kids completing it, while becoming avenue to low grades or failure. I left in ’99 when my husband’s job transferred, but the handwriting was already on the wall. I am not surprised at all by recent developments.
No school system can do it all on its own. Societal problems outside the school system will torpedo efforts at improvement if they are not considered a large part of the problem. The teachers, administrators, and the school buildings aren’t failing the tests; the kids are. As the saying goes, you can provide all the water in the world, but you cannot make the horse drink it. The citizens of Detroit, the parents and the students, are going to have to also be a part of the restructuring, bringing something to the table besides attitude and issues if any improvement is to take