School Talk

A Teacher Speaks Out

Mary Hudson is a teacher from New York chronicled her experience working in three different schools between 2001 and 2010. The piece is powerful, provocative and makes for an important conversation starter about what is really happening in schools. My own experience in 4 schools between 1998 and 2013 was different in ways and also similar in ways, depending on the school. But on thing is clear: countless students in schools across the country are having their learning disrupted—even eliminated totally—because of constant behaviors that make teaching and learning virtually impossible. And the myriad reasons for the disruptions—behavioral disorders, illiteracy, trauma, bad choices or the advancement of kids through the grades who aren’t ready to move on—require supports and services that most schools are not equipped to provide.

The piece is long. The author is not well known—well, I suspect she is now. The article has elicited so many different responses and comments because it has clearly touched a nerve and been a shock to the system to many who don’t have any day to day experience with public schools. Below are the first two paragraphs of the piece and the link comes after that. I highly recommend people read it.

Bad teaching is a common explanation given for the disastrously inadequate public education received by America’s most vulnerable populations. This is a myth. Aside from a few lemons who were notable for their rarity, the majority of teachers I worked with for nine years in New York City’s public school system were dedicated, talented professionals. Before joining the system I was mystified by the schools’ abysmal results. I too assumed there must be something wrong with the teaching. This could not have been farther from the truth.

Teaching French and Italian in NYC high schools I finally figured out why this was, although it took some time, because the real reason was so antithetical to the prevailing mindset. I worked at three very different high schools over the years, spanning a fairly representative sample. That was a while ago now, but the system has not improved since, as the fundamental problem has not been acknowledged, let alone addressed. It would not be hard, or expensive, to fix.

This is public education’s dirty secret.

What do you think?

One thought on “A Teacher Speaks Out

  1. I was told that “it was hopeless to teach hopeless students” by a senior teacher when I started 10 years ago. I left teaching last year. Must say I can identify with too many of her experiences.

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