Recently, Oprah, the View, GMA, and seemingly every other news agency is discussing this new documantary and book Waiting for Superman. The movie hasn't been fully released yet and I have only seen excerpts on Oprah. Firstly, I agree no one wants crappy teachers teaching their children. This is basic common sense. What gets my locs in a knot is this notion that the failure of American youth in education is the fault of teachers. I disagree!!
I believe that teachers have been made the scapegoats for poor parenting. I say this having worked as a teacher for the last 8 years. I know first hand what it takes to be an effective teacher. I agree that if teachers are deemed unfit, tenure or not, they should be removed from the classroom. However, where are the hoards of teachers standing up and defending their profession and calling the "a spade a spade."
So, I ask, who's fault is it that there are more hair magazines in your home than books for your children to read? Who allowed your children to spend four hours playing Grand Theft Auto followed by a healthy dose of Family Guy and/or the Boon Docks instead of homework? Who decided that it was okay for pre-schoolers to watch horror movies like Saw I-V and Nightmare on Elm St instead of Sesame St and Word World? Who fills the shopping cart with fruit drink, microwave dinners, and junk food when they know growing brains need fruits, vegetables and healthy foods to function properly? Who snaps on their child for the smallest infractions and "cusses" (curses) them out like they are an adult without regard for the lesson being taught about how to deal frustration? Who thinks it's cute when their toddler can sing all the lyrics with Beyonce or rap with Drake but they can't count to 20 or spell their own name? These are only a few questions I have for the thousands of parents who want to blame teachers for their short comings as parents. If you are a good parent and you are doing above and beyond - this is NOT about you. My problem (and hopely your problem) is with those that donate their genetics and think that they are done.
Teachers (the good ones) don't go into teaching because they think it is an easy profession. You would have to be a moron to believe that. I, like many others, love children and genuinely want to see everyone of our students succeed. So, what's the problem?
We, teachers, work during a time when education is not valued as a profession. This is made clear everytime school systems have to fight for funding and everytime a disgruntle parent thinks that it is acceptable to come to our place of work yelling, screaming, cursing, and threatening the professionals that teach their children everyday. The same parents that never check a backpack, never SIT DOWN with their kids and actually GO OVER their homework, never help their child STUDY for a test, come in a demand explanations for why their son or daughter isn't making progress. Please note that I called teachers professionals; you would never image someone cursing out their doctor or threatening their banker. The problem is that deep down parents feel anyone could become a teacher; and if anyone could become a teacher, than how hard can it be? My response to that is- try it.
The crisis with American schools is not solely a poor teacher problem; it is a racial inequaity problem and a socioeconomic problem. It is cultural capital problem in which it cyclical distructive nature spans generations. So stop placing all the blame on the shoulders of teachers. Teachers are underpaid but spend hundreds of their own money on school supplies and projects for their students; they are unappreciated but come to school everyday smiling and welcoming their students; they are overworked but continue to stay after school for hours for free to grade papers, volunteer, tutor, etc.at the expense of their own families and personal lives.
Expecting teachers to bare the brunt of this crisis is like saying a Bandaid can contain the bleeding from a gunshot. Parents are the first teachers. The lessons children value most come from their parents. Whether it is a single mother teaching her children what dedication and hard work look like or a father showing his sons how to be men, children imitate what they see everyday. If you understand this, how can you expect a teacher to fix/correct behaviors that parents have spent their child's lifetime reinforcing. Teachers have an important role but its not the most important role--that job belongs to the parents.
Torrence is our sons' Superman and I am our daughters' Superwoman. Can you honestly say the same thing? Stop Waiting for Superman -- become one.