Reading through an OpEd in The Boston Globe, Choppy waters for teaching, by Junia Yearwood, I was struck by her struggles as a teacher to maintain a consistent and effective approach to her ninth grade students and their study of English.
However, I was more struck by the fact that she is talking about 27 years of teaching—teaching in which there was no agreed path, no consistent educational doctrine running through the school system, year after year, guiding the students on an agreed path. Rather, it was churn.
I will be honest, from ninth grade I remember only Mr Dibs and drafting class and gym. The rest has receded into the mists of time. But, I am smart enough to know that the English teacher was also preparing me for my future. I remember my high school English teachers, Ms Glada Thrawl and, in another grade, a pert young woman who gave me extra credit for reading my way through James Joyce's Ulysses—"banned in Boston", all 548 pages.
The question is, how long will we continue to hazard our children and our own future by not having a serious and consistent approach to education? I sometimes make this point for someone by counting up the number of generations that have passed since a young women entered Kindergarten when Judge Arthur Garrity issued his famous ruling. If they actually graduated high school before getting married and getting pregnant, we are talking the third generation. Ms Yearwood makes me dispair that Judge Garrity did anything for Boston Schools. The more scary scenario is that he made a major positive change, but it just wasn't enough.
I think we need to be listening to Teacher Junia Yearwood and hear what she is telling us. Then we need to take action to really turn this nation around in terms of education. It isn't going to be through spending more money or through the Federal Department of Education. It is going to be local parents and local concerned citizens working together to pick a plan and then making sure the schools stick to it for a while. And, it is going to mean helping those young students who come from homes where there are no books or magazines. They need extra help with English. And the young women who are going in the direction of having a baby rather than having a shot at graduating from High School. The statistics are telling a grim story and they are predicting a less than successful future—for all of us.
Regards — Cliff
10 months ago