I joined Teach For America 16 years ago as part of the 1992 Houston corps (the best TFA corps ever–see here and here and here and here and here and–wild card edition! – here). Like two-thirds of TFA alumni, I’m still working full-time in the education space. Why?
My sense of outrage gets sparked anew on a weekly basis. Someone told me yesterday that they think the world is hardened to realities like “billions of people living on a dollar a day.” True. But I actually think most people in America simply don’t get how bad things are and the extent to which this country fails millions of kids–really, dooms kids to a lifetime of poverty–on a daily basis.
Does the average voter know these realities: that only about half of African-American high school kids graduate from high school within four years, or that the Detroit City School System graduates 25 percent of students in four years and the Indianapolis Public Schools graduate 30 percent of students? Or that even among low-income kids who do graduate, only half immediately enroll in college? That kids in low-income areas are seven times less likely to graduate from college than their wealthier peers?
And yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. We see evidence every day of different results in individual classrooms. In individual schools. In whole networks of schools. The point is that when you see that the world actually could look different, you start to believe that there is a moral imperative, and the only question is how.
Here is a video for 5 minutes of inspiration this weekend from my friends at KIPP. Peace.
–Guestblogger Kevin Huffman
2 Replies to “Please excuse me while I climb up on this virtual soap box…”
Your post explains why I was hoping for a discussion during your guest blog. It is no criticism to say that obviously KIPP and TFA are dwarfed by the problems we faced. But you would not have had success without learning a great deal about the people side of education. A great thing about teaching is that every day is a new one.
It is equally obvious that some political decisions were made, and I don’t enough about that history. But it is equally obvious to me that you should join with Randi Weingarten and with the Bolder Broader Challenge. In fact, you should bring Eduwonk with you.
You may have some political differences with us, but they are minor in comparison with the differences between the values you demonstrate and those of the EEP. I bet you could tell stories that are nearly identical to the stories that we reformers within the union have experienced.
Our union president was on a field trip to a hospital next to the Murrah Building, and as the casualities poured in he swore to never push away from bargaining. Pretend it is January 2009, as President Obama takes office, and it is a new day. Democracy is slow, but “jaw, jaw, is better than war, war.”
I will join you on the TFA soapbox any day! Our local first year CMs start school today and I am thinking of them an awaiting a report!