Closing the Opportunity Gap?
I was reading about new teacher training programs. How we prepare teachers is a hot-button education issue. One website said that teacher quality is the number one issue effecting the opportunity gap. (I would name the company but I have not really researched them so I am not sure if they are friend or foe in terms of their outlook on education reform, Black Male education etc, etc,). What I will say is this is a falsehood. Teacher quality is not the number one factor impacting the opportunity gap. The number one factor is deconstructing how we look at education in this country altogether. The people in our classrooms are plenty talented. The principals that have been hired are plenty talented and plenty motivated to assist students.
The problem is, the systematized legacy of prejudice, racial injustice, and savage inequalities that have plagued public education in this country since, public education became compulsory.
Teachers are the oil in a car engine. You can create better engine oil; I guess. But the fact of the matter is there are many other factors that contribute to a car running smoothly that go much further than engine oil, especially when that engine oil is already up to standard. Let me be clear. I am defending teachers. Teacher quality needs to improve in pockets in this country. In certain schools, in certain departments, in certain districts, in certain classrooms. I get that. But to think creating high-grade engine oil is going to fix a broken lemon is absurd. The lemon needs to be sent to the demolition yard. Let’s examine that lemon from a inner-city youth perspective. This is prudent because these teacher prep programs are never allowed in suburban, rural, high performing, or upper middle-class settings.
What about the horrible physical conditions of our buildings? What about the terrible facilities, that students go to every day? What about the low expectations society puts on inner-city youth? What about the broken, white-washed curriculum that does not cater to students strengths, but focuses on language-based content delivery? What about a curriculum that does not focus on student interested, but yet seeks to uphold a system of values, mores, and principles that alienate and demean Black identity? What about a public schools system that has never worked to bring those opportunities to youth in the first place? What about the police slaughtering of unarmed African-Americans, unconsciously suggesting to Black boys, that America’s systems will never benefit them? What about poverty alleviation? What about the stress and biosocial trauma that we bring to school every day that sometimes makes learning difficult? What about private schools that view Black youth as anomalies, subconsciously gesturing, “How did you get here?”
Can teachers affect the change in the above issues? Only in pockets!
I say to this teacher preparation and all teacher prep programs that may be looking to improve outcomes for Black Males, your teacher prep model is only the tip of the iceberg. If you cannot alleviate the institutionalize problems I mentioned above, you will fail.