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.