Friday, March 23, 2012

Response to Winerip article

Benita Miller, a NYC public school parent who's on this email list, replied to the Winerip article in my recent email with the following comments (shared with permission), highlighting how insane it is that pretty much anyone can get into an ed school and, from there, right into a classroom, with very little oversight, monitoring, mentoring, or quality control:


The school highlighted in the recent Times article was my kids' school, PS 146 (Brooklyn New School). I know how hard these teachers work and they helped me transition from a young parent to a seasoned parent – my son's now at Cornell and my daughter is now in 2nd grade. The staff at BNS, like most schools in District 15, is incredible and invests lots of emotional and intellectual energy in preparing children. BNS routinely produces students who go on to outstanding high schools and universities so I was a bit crushed to read how some of our teachers were ranked. Especially because I know these teachers and have had actual classroom experiences with them.


Conversely, I recently spent time on an outing with my daughter and met a "bad teacher."  She had been dismissed by the DOE for a range of reasons. She also spoke so poorly of children from diverse backgrounds – race, economic and otherwise.  I didn't understand how she had survived an interview/placement process in the first place. But, two things came to mind because of my work with the city's most disadvantaged communities where the teacher was let loose: I thought of the unnamed damage that she had done in the classroom, but I also thought about the teacher….stunned because dismissal left  her life in familial and financial disarray.  How horrible for all around.  How did the teacher ever make it into a classroom? With an advanced degree? Teaching for several years? How?


I have a law degree and I couldn't call myself an Attorney at Law until I met the full obligations of bar admission – how sad is it that teachers are called teachers just because someone placed them in a classroom. It's unfair to the kids, their families and the teacher. We've got to do better – the root cause of this seems to me the quality of education for teaching candidates who want to become teachers and what seems a total disconnect between moving from candidacy to career and not just viewing it as a "job." No teacher at the Brooklyn New School views it as a "job" and I don't know how  value-added evaluations tell the story of such a committed faculty. I'm looking for answers because my kid is safe at BNS and I know because they've been a big part of helping me raise my children, but what about other families who don't have the opportunity to look beyond the numbers….I don't know. Does anyone?  I have to admit seeing a bad teacher was quite scary and I kept thinking that she'd never survive in a place like BNS where parents would strongly speak out…how do you protect children where parents are treated poorly or feel very disconnected.

 Subscribe in a reader