Would you teach? 'No way'

Hilary Lustick’s New York City students say they respect black and brown teachers but act up when teachers are suburban whites. But they don’t want to become the teachers they’d like to have, she writes on Gotham Schools.

Two students help with teaching in her sixth-period class.

They reinforce my routines with more precision than I do, insisting on total silence before they will call on a student and flat-out berating any out-of-turn or disrespectful comments. . . . These young women agree they have the organizational skills and classroom presence of natural educators, but neither would ever consider teaching high school. Alissa, who is blunt and would probably make a kick-butt high school teacher, says flatly, “No way. I see how we treat you guys.”

Students rarely see teachers who grew up in their communities and returned to teach,  “infusing the structures they need to succeed with the cultural tones and signals that will make them feel self-edifying and not submissive to the white man,” Lustick writes.

Because she doesn’t see strong teacher role models like herself, Alissa dismisses the entire profession as one unworthy of respect, one undeserving of her intelligence and effort.

It sounds like Alissa thinks teaching in the inner city is a very difficult job. Which it is.

About Joanne


  1. I would actually say the saddest thing is the lack of appropriate role models at home which allow them to act out in school.

    Whether they could be good teachers or not, their inability to see past being “self-edifying and not submissive” will inhibit their success regardless of profession. At some point nearly everyone has to learn from mentors and be subservient to a boss.

  2. I don’t see her support her contention that her kids are racist with anything other than anecdotal evidence. Pretty rotten thing to say, though. “My kids are racist, which is why they won’t listen to me.”

    Raise teaching entry standards, there will be fewer URM teachers. This is a statistical fact, not some political objective.

    Oh, and good lord. What a bleeding heart liberal tract of garbage is her blog. Or is she parodying?

    “I did a lesson on internalized oppression”. Indeed.

  3. Well, I taught in a school, where the kids were somewhat disrespectful of teachers, but especially bad when the teachers were white.

    The racial disparity was so noticeable that one of the Black teachers went “off” on a class, telling them what was wrong with their behavior. It was ignored by the admins, though.

  4. SimbaPenn says:

    At the high school where I teach (predominantly Dominican and African-American) students could care less about your race. I’ve seen teachers of all races run out of classrooms, and likewise beloved by our students. If you’re an ineffective classroom manager, some students might key in on your whiteness since they’d know you’d be susceptible to being bothered by it, not because it actually matters to them.

  5. You get what you pay for… these girls might change their tune if good teachers were paid what they’re worth.