Students Taking to the Streets of Philadelphia, to Protest Bad Teachers

The Inquirer’s Kristen Graham has the story — and a money quote, from a senior at Overbrook High, Finesse Davis:

“I’ve seen students cut class and come to my classroom to avoid bad teachers,” Davis said. “The system of teacher distribution in Philadelphia is broken.”

 ~ Guest blogger Elizabeth Green

One Reply to “Students Taking to the Streets of Philadelphia, to Protest Bad Teachers”

  1. Of course, students have seen kids trying to avoid bad teachers. (by the spring, I have visiting (cutting) students in all of my classes, and I cover for their attendance but I don’t criticize fellow teachers to them.)

    But that quote sounds coached to me. The problem is the “teacher distribution system?”

    In my experience, most students would agree that we have too many bad teachers and not enough good ones. But few students would know about the proposals of the Ed Trust and others that amount to rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. Most of my students would take the much more realistic position that we need to recruit and retain more teaching talent. Most would agree that the conditions in urban schools drive away too many teachers. Most would recognize that the talents needed to teach in magnet and lower poverty schools are not necessarily the same as the talents needed to teach in the toughest neighborhood schools.

    Most of my students feel trapped by the conditions that left them behind. Even those who are chronically disruptive know that the disorder in urban schools is a huge problem. Few of my students, who have been forced by circumstances to deal with our conditions, would want to force teachers to to come our school. Most realize that the top teachers in lower poverty schools would quit before they came to our school. Most have seen great young dedicated teachers crying endlessly before they gave up on the inner city. (and the students tend to be overly critical of themselves for helping to exhaust those teachers, and every time it happens they feel more rejected.)

    You can’t help urban schools with a beggar thy neighbor approach, trying to coerce better teachers into poor schools. We need Obama’s Marshall Plan for Teachers to build capacity. We need to recruit all types of adults to volunteer for the civil rights revolution of the 21st century. We need to bring our students out of the buildings and bring the all types of adults from community into our schools.

    Few of my students see the blame game as a solution. Obviously, plenty of bad teachers need to be fired effeciently. But they recognize the chicken and egg situation. You can’t hold teachers responsible until you have conditions that give them a chance to teach. And even if you did, until you turn around the learning culture of schools, you couldn’t replace those bad teachers.

    But give people a better chance to teach effectively, and plenty of them will fall in love with the greatest job I can imagine. Give people a chance how to figure out how to be effective, and the joys of teaching in inner city schools are incomparable.

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