Teachers

Nationwide the talk in education is the high amount of teachers retiring or leaving teaching altogether. There is a myriad of reasons as to why teachers are exiting the profession. For this blog post, we’ll drill down to discuss three main reasons why teachers are leaving. We will also develop some solutions as to how we can get teachers to stay in the profession.

Reason #1: Low Teacher Pay

Given everything educators are asked to do, the profession pays low. In some states, beginning teacher salaries are sub 40K. In defense of teachers, I do think teachers deserve better compensation. I’m not particularly fond of teacher seniority and would like to see more pay scales based on teacher productivity (but that’s another blog post). A Simple way to combat teacher pay is to give them more money. I prefer attaching money to accountability measures, but that’s just me. Even with my wholehearted agreement that teachers should receive more compensation,

Of Course Teachers Deserve More Money

I’d be remiss not to add that more money should come with caveats. Another way to offset teacher pay is to align your school, so teachers only have to teach structurally. Some of the many complaints of teachers are that they have to wear too many hats. Let’s normalize putting supports in place so teachers can focus on doing a fantastic job for kids.

Continue reading “Teachers”

Ravitch

Loud and Wrong

I like many of you, was a fan of Diane Ravitch and her earlier work. It spoke to me. It was bold, courageous, and truthful. I’m sure current admirers of her work feel the same way about her present-day work. With her branding, over 150k Twitter followers, ones who have pledged their allegiance no matter how factually incorrect and dangerous the rhetoric spoken by Ms. Ravitch becomes.  One of the challenges we face as a society is when we don’t take the time to challenge scholars when they spew their facts.  Most emerging scholar-practitioners benefit from the knowledge of counternarratives.  There is always research that debunks research.  No one study is safe. That’s the beauty of scholarship.

Why does School Choice bother You?

Moreover, I have written about Ms. Ravitch before, but not in a severe manner. It was more satirical, as I try and ignore her current stance, especially on charter schools. For the life of me, I can’t understand why less than 8% of schools bothers the heck out of 92% of people that work in traditional public schools. Primarily if we aim to educate students, there’s no way anyone could want schools’ monopoly.

Competition Makes us Better.

Further, if you look at any private and public sector, it’s safe to say competition keeps people honest. Imagine if you could only drive one brand of a car. I have driven many vehicles, which is how I know what I like. It’s the same with schools. Parents should have the keys to cars in terms of determining where their children attend schools. When we try and drive that narrative for parents, it’s the same as telling them you don’t think they are intelligent enough to pick schools for their children.

Joe Nathan gives countless examples that dispel Ms. Ravitch’s narrative.  Even when her narratives are dispelled, she doubles down on the rhetoric rather than taking down things that have been debunked.  It’s unfortunate because those who follow her never take the time to dispute the facts.  They go on the notion, Ravitch said it, so it must be true.  It kind of reminds me of… nevermind.

Self-Hatred

Unfortunately, this is not just a Ravitch problem. We have folks from historically marginalized communities that think the same way about Black and Brown parents. They don’t believe we are smart enough to select the right fit schools for our kids. For those parents that have challenged the status quo, I salute you. Your courage will undoubtedly be the hope needed to foster courage for other parents to make difficult choices about schools.  Sharif El-Mekki adds, “Black folks have been doing school choice forever,” in a tweet.

I Want All School to be Great for Kids

In conclusion, I want to make this 100% transparent. I’m for no one school system. My daughter is currently in a Public Charter School, and my son is in a traditional public school. If I could have afforded to send my son to private school, I would have done so. Our children are our investments.  I do not believe you should guilt me into staying in a system that 1) Isn’t designed to increase our intellectual capacity, 2) Doesn’t offer our students the best chance of being competitive in the Global Market. Whatever schools you choose for your families, let that be a school that best reflects your child. Please don’t let anyone guilt you, especially Diane Ravitch, into leaving your kids in schools that do not love them.

Open Letter to Teachers

Underpaid:

Dear Teachers, you are revered. Having been adjacent to the classroom for several years, I know first-hand the job’s stress. Often you work in districts that are cash strapped. Having to take what little money you do make to buy supplies for your students. I know some teachers that often forfeit their lunch so that students can eat. Your efforts are appreciated even when it feels like the rest of the world is against you. Right now, more than ever, our nation is witnessing teachers having to put their lives on the line and be front line workers. We are asking teachers to assume these responsibilities often with little to no training and zero extra compensation. In 2020, I do not want to devalue the medical professions’ efforts, but educators are the Co-MVP’s of the moment.

Undervalued:

Additionally, if you do a compensation analysis for educators, you’ll see that they are grossly underpaid. We treat teaching like it’s an 8 hour a day job. Many educators in the trenches know this to be an untruth. Even those with the discipline to create separations and balance often relent because they care immensely about the students served. I don’t say it enough, and this pandemic has me thinking more critically about how we need to celebrate teachers. There’s an enormous amount of blame to go around when discussing the failures in education. Focusing on these failures allows us to have a deficit thinking mindset regarding the profession. One of my goals as a critical friend to educators is to highlight more of the fantastic things that I see from teachers and focus less on the less favorable items.

Asked to Do it All:

Consequently, we are asking teachers to do it all. Many accept the challenge with open arms. Even with taking the challenges thrown at them, we find ways to make them villains. But, many focus on what educators don’t do, I realize my positioning to become a better support system for the teaching profession. There are several ways that I am willing to support teachers. First, I will not offer any criticism without providing tangible ways for teachers to improve. Next, I will frame my feedback in a way that teachers feel loved. Care needs to come after any critique. Lastly, I will be more empathetic as a critical friend to teachers. Often administrators that no longer have an approximation to the classroom forget the efforts it took to sustain. Teachers, we value you, and we love you. Salute!

Your Co-Teacher is a “Woke” Trump Supporter

Math and Common Sense

If you look at the election results and do some simple Math, your co-teacher is probably a “woke” Trump supporter. The teaching field is over 80% white or white adjacent. According to exit polls, 55% of suburban white women voted for Trump. According to this data set, it’s safe to assume that many closet Trump supporters are roaming the hallways of schools in your districts.

Talking Politics

I remember when talking about your politics wasn’t as sexy or accepted as it is now. Personally, when it comes down to educating kids, I don’t care who you voted for; I care that you reach kids and they learn from you. The problem with some of the folks that voted for Trump is that people who voted differently will equate their votes with racism. It has been stated at nausea that those that supported DJT are racist.  I honestly don’t know if I am there yet.  I want to give one issue voters grace.  This is not a popular opinion, so please excuse me for my moment of naiveté.

Justifying Your Trump Vote
woke philly maga
Dear Philly,?

If you keep your vote to yourself, you’re right. If you didn’t and want to know why your vote for Trump is so offensive, call in your Bb friends. If you have no friends to call, well, that might be where you need to start. Get some Bb friends. You can also get some liberal friends who aren’t afraid to call out racism and bigotry. Either way, there needs to be some dialogue so that you can openly discuss your decision to vote for DJT. If the ability to make the said decision does not consider others’ lived experiences, you probably don’t have enough empathy to be in a classroom.

Fine Line

As an administrator, I have to walk a fine line in terms of politics. Sometimes my moral code is impacted by politics. For example, I may agree with a candidate and their policies, but if the politician is vitriol and racist, it’s hard for me to support that kind of person. In my heart, exposing kids to the good of people can only benefit students. However, evil exists, so even though I’m afraid I have to disagree with other people’s politics, part of me feels like kids need to be exposed to alternative viewpoints to make informed decisions.  My teachers never forced their politics on me. I also grew up in an era where social media wasn’t a thing. My teachers were asleep and less dangerous than “woke” Trump supporters.

If It Is You
reality
Reality!

If you are a Trump supporter and a teacher, it’s okay. It is also a decision you have to live with it. All I ask is to open your hearts to teaching Bb kids to the best of your ability. Try very hard not to impart the rationale that made you vote the way you did. Leave your politics at home, and while you are educating kids, give them your best. It’s going to be tough, but you can do this, you got this. I guess the paradox is, Can you be a “woke” co-teacher and be a Trump supporter?

Reframing School Reform

I recently read an article from www.the74million.org written by Rob Pondiscio, a dope writer and a friend to the reform movement. There were some salient points from the paper and some items that did not resonate with me. I won’t go line for line regarding my likes or dislikes of his piece, but I would like to offer an alternative perspective for those that care to hear one.

Schools Are Bad for Everyone

I agree with Robert’s assertion that schools have failed minoritized students for generations. However, schools haven’t been great for rural and suburban white kids either. In sum, schools just haven’t been good. My thoughts are that if we focus solely on how schooling has been for Bb kids, we miss an opportunity to point out the obvious, schools in their totality are just bad for all kids, not just the schools that serve Bb families predominately. Real reform won’t occur until it impacts white kids. Making this argument an “All Minds Matter” argument is a more powerful argument.

Wilson (former CEO of Ascend Charter Network) states, “Those who founded and ran such schools built their pillars— academic achievement and high expectations for all students—are in a defensive crouch, stunned seething or bending to a knee to a new social justice orthodoxy that now frames their effort to advance racial justice as just the opposite: an attempt to impose white supremacy on Bb children.”

Lived Experiences

For those of you that do not know, I’m a charter school insider. In his article, many of the schools Robert named were the governing models and provided playbooks for other charter schools. If you speak with reflective charter school leaders who led schools during that era, they will openly admit to the schools’ harmful practices. I ride for charter schools, but if we can’t be self-reflective on practices that didn’t work and openly discuss those policies’ residual impact, we are no better than any other movement for students. Regardless of the success of these schools, the lived experiences of students and families are essential. This article fails to capture the voices of the tormented souls that attended these charter schools. The students who wore yellow shirts when they did not submit to white school leaders’ will. Students who were isolated from the general population (Gen Pop) when they broke the rules. Students who had to sit on hard wooden floors to earn their seat at the table. As a newly fermented charter school leader, I admit my complacency in these Civil Rights violations. It was my first year as a dean of students, and my job was to enforce these rules. I found a workaround, built relationships with students, so they complied based on being treated like humans. Yet, I witnessed white colleagues that treated these students as anything but human. And when I finally built up enough courage to speak out against student treatment, I earned the label of not being a team player and was non-renewed.

No Excuses for the Damages Done by No Excuses

I’d visited some public schools around the time when Zero-tolerance charter schools were sexy. The article mentions that some of the public schools were wild. There’s truth to that. Much of the popularity behind Zero-tolerance charter schools centers on school safety. Parents compromised their students’ rights to provide them with physically safe learning environments. In doing so, many parents did not address the psychological impact that these schools had on children. So, when you see alumni lashing out, it’s not because they aren’t grateful for the opportunity; it’s because many still live with the trauma inflicted upon them by the schools they attended.

Room to Grow

I wanted to read this article and disagree profusely. I don’t. However, when items like this come out, it’s essential to include a multitude of voices. I’d love to see the representatives of Bb founders and prominent school leaders that identify as Bb. They may be hard to find. If you look at the movement under a microscope, that’s where it fails Bb students, in my opinion. My suggestion is the next time an article like this publishes, let’s find students who had horrible experiences in these schools and let them include their voices. Parents who have had less than stellar experiences in these schools also include their votes on the record.

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