Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 15 2010

Community vs Local School

One of our seventh graders did some awesome work in the community, and someone in administration mentioned offhand that it’s nice to not have the community angry at us… for once.

It’s easy and common for teachers to feel anger or frustration toward the communities we work in. Our jobs are hard and these kids are far behind, so it’s because their parents don’t read to them. It’s because they didn’t go to pre-school. It’s because no one cares about them. It’s because their families aren’t stable. It’s because they’re allowed to wander the streets at night and join gangs. It’s because they don’t speak English. It’s because the parents never got an education themselves.

I’ve heard about it before on a larger policy scale, but I haven’t stopped to think much about the communities blaming us right back. They trust us with their children and we don’t even teach them how to add or decode words. We let the kids get hit with brass knuckles or get bullied relentlessly or get pantsed in the classroom. They aren’t prepared to speak English or survive high school or stay out of trouble. The communities are struggling to escape poverty while the local schools are just churning out children without the skills necessary to do so. That’s an enormous amount of damage that we are doing on a community level. Not just failing the kids, but also failing their parents, their neighbors, and their future children. No wonder they’re angry at us.

3 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing the experience!

  2. Well, Psuedo-sister, I agree and I don’t. While its not totally right to blame the parents, its not right to give us all the responsibility either. I for one would have never brought brass knuckles to school in the first place, much less hit a kid with them– and that had nothing to do with the consequences of school. What parent leaves that laying around for a kid to pick up? And think of all of the school shootings you hear about. How come the parents had guns their children could get to? How come they didn’t bring them to counseling or do it through school, or switch schools? And how many times have I heard parents at conferences as ME for parenting advice? Not only do I not want to give it (who am I to do that?) but if I do give a suggestion…. they don’t listen! How do you work together when that happens?

    We pay so much attention to the kids and sometimes the parents don’t because they’re working so hard to provide…that they can’t parent. The lines between which things are a parent’s responsibility, and which belong to the school are hazy, but I do think on both sides its very easy to just blame a faceless entity. Those teachers. Those parents.

  3. how can the community be angry at you guys? it is not your fault that their parents don’t read to them, they didn’t go to pre-school, no one cares about them, their families aren’t stable ….. etc

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