Friday, April 22, 2011

Illegal education


Another mom, Tanya McDowell (Connecticut), was arrested for sending her child to an out of district school. (Read about Ohio mom, Kelley Bolar here)

The twist in this case was that the mother and child were homeless, meaning they had no place of residence. Similar to Bolar, McDowell was arrested. ARRESTED. For sending her child to a school he didn't belong in.

I saw "Waiting for Superman", the educational documentary, about a week ago. It didn't tell me anything I don't already know.  I know my school district is failing. I know a bad teacher can get tenure and clog up the classroom for up to 35 years. I know thousands of parents like me want a change, but may not be able to pay private school fees for multiple children.

Stories like this are so frustrating because, for many, there is no alternative. If we can not cross district lines, if our advocating still does not ensure an Art teacher for our children, if finding/printing/giving supplemental worksheets to our children doesn't increase their national averages, then what?

I wonder, do the administrators/principals,/teachers/board members, who run failing districts send their child to failing schools? Or do they live across district lines? Are their children in private schools?
Is jail the risk of incarceration a fair alternative for a desperate parent?
Some may think public schools can't be that bad. And all of them aren't. But working in schools has allowed me to see the "amazing instructor" next door to the "screaming teacher". The "innovator" down the hall from the "demean-er".

Teachers aren't the enemy by a long-shot. However, accountability for instructors and the administrators who employ them, could go a long way in turning around failing schools/districts. CEO have to account for their businesses thriving or failing, so should school officials.

If things go my way I'll be certified within 20 months, have my own classroom in 24, post-grad in 36, etc, etc. Throughout my career, will I find a mentor help me excel as a teacher? Will my district encourage teachers to take professional development? Will there be ways to track my effectiveness? Will I be compensated for being effective?

And in the meantime...for the kids down the hall...

What's the alternative? The answer eludes me, and I'm sick of waiting for Superman.