The Special Role Of Science Teaching In Schools Serving Diverse Children In Urban Poverty
Writing this paper has taken me on a journey to a place I have been heading all my life but have resisted getting to. Over the past forty-five years I have dealt with the issue of why children in poverty and children of color are not adequately served by the public schools. During this period I have developed numerous programs for preparing teachers whose students do achieve and do succeed in school, but the number of such teachers has never caught up with the need for them. Even increasing the pools of new teachers in the 43 states where alternative certification programs are offered will not prove equal to the task of providing all children in poverty with the teachers they deserve. Most of the 2.2 million teachers who will be hired in the next decade will be placed with children in poverty. But if those who are recruited do not stay in teaching long enough to become proficient and then remain as career-long teachers, we will simply be perpetuating the present churn of teachers who come and go at the expense of children of color and children in poverty. Just as we import agricultural and domestic workers to do the jobs Americans won’t do, we are now increasing the importation of substantial numbers of English- and Spanishspeaking teachers from Asia, Europe, South America, Africa, and the Caribbean. But the ones who survive culture shock and who become culturally sensitive enough to Learn how to teach urban youngsters will be far fewer than those who quit or fail. And the ones who stay and become truly effective (at least three years) will be far fewer than the number of strong insensitives who will stay because they can’t get other jobs with equal benefits or because being a teacher enables them to remain in this country and bring their families. By 2010 not having enough effective teachers for children in poverty will have been a problem of sufficient duration to reveal that in-the-box thinking will recruit and prepare only enough effective career teachers to help only some students in specific urban schools (those with special kinds of school leaders) but not enough effective career teachers to impact the schooling of children in poverty nationally.
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