When I was doing community history projects in Bronx schools—they were all pushed out when the testing mania struck and New York City’s Bloomberg Administration started assigning schools letter grades—I met some incredible teachers in schools whose test scores marked them as troubled or “failing.” Most of them were women, many of them Black and Latino, quite a few products of neighborhoods similar to the ones they were teaching in.
When presented with an opportunity to add excitement and energy to their classes with innovative history research, they took what I put before them and reinvented it in creative projects that reached students and their families in ways I could never have imagined.
So, when I hear that Hilary Clinton plans to close public schools throughout the nation whose performance is “below average,” I think of those Bronx teachers. Basically, she is willing to throw them—and teachers like them—under the bus because they chose to teach in high poverty schools. Nothing could be more unfair or more counterproductive.
Some of the best teachers in the country work in schools where students don’t test well. They nurture, they inspire, they protect and guide students whose lives are filled with hardship. Punishing them for their choice is the height of cynicism.
With A Brooklyn Accent