Tom Vander Ark’s cappuccino today: half full, half empty

Today’s NY Times – no data yet, but big feature on small schools anyway….

“In the beginning I wasn’t too happy because they were so unorganized,” said Marlene McLeod, whose son, Justin, attends Peace and Diversity [High School in NYC]. But she said she had quickly learned that the principal, Andrew M. L. Turay, was running a different type of public school, and she decided to become active in the PTA for the first time in years.

“I feel so good because he knows me by name; he knows my child,” she said. “You just get the feeling everybody cares. It got me involved.” At Justin’s old school, Middle School 142, she said: “I didn’t even bother. You couldn’t even get through to the school; the phone just rang.”

That’s the good stuff. The hidden underbelly, of course, is that small high-poverty schools everywhere are learning the Catch 22: you can’t do it right without workaholic wunderkind teachers, but they are hard to keep in the teaching profession.

“Ms. Ostrem, 29, who graduated from Princeton and earned a master’s degree in environmental engineering at Columbia, said she did not know how long she could keep up the pace, which she described as more grueling than at the Lawrenceville School, a New Jersey boarding school where she taught for a year and lived with her students. ‘It’s certainly rewarding enough so far, because when you do know the kids that well, you see the small steps every day,’ she said. ‘It’s also definitely really hard to see having the energy to do this in even five more years, in a way that it never crossed my mind at Lawrenceville, that I would run out of energy for teaching.’ She added: ‘I abandoned all else in my life this year. How long can I do that? How long am I willing to do that?'”

Solutions? The Teaching Commission has ideas.

– Guest blogger GGW

2 Replies to “Tom Vander Ark’s cappuccino today: half full, half empty”

  1. Very interesting post thank you for sharing I just added your site to my bookmarks and will check back 🙂 By the way this is a little off topic but I really like your blogs layout.

  2. i guess the teaching commission isn’t around anymore.

    anybody know what happened? was it their ideas?

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