Inspired by “movies like Dangerous Minds and Stand and Deliver, in which heroic teachers reach into the lives of at-risk adolescents and make a difference,” Ed Boland left a well-paid job to teach disadvantaged students at a New York City school. He lasted a year. The hero teacher is a myth concludes the New York Times review of Boland’s book, The Battle for Room 314.
The Times is right about the folly of expecting a single teacher to defeat poverty, writes Stephen Chiger, director of literacy for Uncommon Schools, on The 74 Million. But it’s wrong to give up on educating poor kids, he writes.
Educators are working together to build effective schools for children in poverty, he writes. It takes “better training and support for teachers” and “a character-building discipline system” and “a curriculum that challenges students to think at the highest levels” and “regular follow-up with students even when they are in college” and more.
School improvement doesn’t need to wait for the country to heal poverty, writes Chiger.
Take the most recent PARCC exams in New Jersey. About 41% of the state’s 11th graders met or exceeded expectations on the test.
In Essex County, high-income Millburn High School (2.2% economically disadvantaged) saw 57% of students scoring proficient or advanced on the assessment. The juniors at Livingston High School (1.5 % economically disadvantaged) earned 56.5%.
A few miles away, the juniors at Newark-based North Star Academy (83.7% economically disadvantaged) earned an 80.6% pass rate.
Even Jaime Escalante, the hero of Stand and Deliver, wasn’t a lone wolf. Escalante credits his principal with supporting his plan to improve math instruction — it took years — so that students could tackle AP Calculus.