Attracting Talent to the Classroom – 2

In my previous post I asked if the U.S. can raise the teaching profession to the level of the countries with the highest performing education systems.  The good news is that the climate for overhauling the system of preparing, supporting and evaluating teachers has been steadily improving as a result of the impact of Teach For America and other reform efforts.   (TFA has always claimed a dual mission that includes socializing future leaders about the need to reform public education. In fact, TFA alumni are some of the most prominent leaders in education reform today, spawning charter schools, spin-off alternative certification pathways, and influencing public education policy.)  In particular, there are a number of trends that are contributing to increased efforts to revamp the teacher preparation system, and are luring top individuals into the classroom: Continue reading

David’s Story

Since the start of the 2011-12 school year, donning my different hats, I have had the opportunity to visit some of the highest performing and some of the most challenged educational environments in Los Angeles County.  As a consultant to charter schools, I witness children from low-income, gang-ridden communities getting an outstanding education and the opportunity to move beyond the low expectations and doomed futures of their less fortunate peers.  As a member of the LA County Board of Education, I see youngsters from the very same communities who have not had the same benefits.  These children are in the juvenile court system schools. In some cases- in well-administered probation camps- they are getting the support that should have been there in the first place, and some are even completing high school graduation requirements. Many, however, are not progressing and have an excellent chance of returning to the camps and ending up in the adult prison system.  Recently, David A., a student at Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy near South LA, shared his poignant personal experience with members of his school community.  Better than anything I can report, his story illustrates this stark dichotomy in educational and social outcomes.

David’s Story

My name is David A., and I am a senior at Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy.

When I first entered Bright Star as a seventh grader, I was on the verge of being expelled from my middle school because of the people I hung around with. My family thought about moving to Texas to get me away from it all, but they were pretty sure I would take the trouble with me. About the same time, I had a neighbor who attended Bright Star. I would see him come home every day from school, in his clean little uniform, all tucked in, and think, “Wow, I’m glad I don’t go to that school. He comes home pretty late!” Continue reading