In my recent period of unemployment, I applied for a lot of jobs. A LOT of jobs. Most of them were remote education jobs.
One of the jobs required a performance task as part of the interview process. One component of the task was to review a variety of
The more jobs I applied for, the more I began to recognize a subtext in the mission of the organizations. It went something like this: “we are here to fix the teachers.” Or, “we fix the broken schools by minimizing the teacher’s presence in the classroom.” When things are broken, you need something to blame. Or someone. Teachers are an easy target.
The schools are broken
Help! The schools are broken! “I know! Let’s hire (primarily white & wealthy) undergrads from elite colleges and place them – untrained – in schools in underserved communities. Let’s be sure to tell them that because they went to brand name schools, they’re better than the long-serving teachers, and that after those two years of teaching-as-community-service they should be shaping education policy.”
Help! The schools are still broken! “I know! Let’s start testing students in reading and math every year from a really young age and let’s tie those test scores to school funding and teachers’ job security.”
These are not good ideas. When I arrived at Math for America, I told my boss, “Let’s be different. We’re not here to fix the teachers. We’re here to uplift them, support them, cheer them, challenge them, sustain them.” He agreed and became the biggest advocate of all for the importance of respecting teachers. Teachers are not what’s broken about the schools. If you’re still reading, you already know that the root of the problem is systemic racism and its good buddy, poverty.
And those jobs?
I didn’t get offered any of those jobs. Something tells me I wasn’t a good fit. I’m using my time now to build something that reflects my values and offers a counter-narrative. We don’t need to make the teachers better; we need to do better for our teachers. Especially the ones who are in it for the long haul.