This morning, Daniel Pink (@DanielPink) Tweeted a link to an article in the Washington Post, Behind the SAT Numbers, showing that SAT scores correlate almost exactly with parental income. The richer the parents, the higher scores. It made me realized that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
After decades of education reform, it seems like nothing has changed. I distinctly remember the day 20+ years ago when one of my professors in the College of Education at the University of Hawaii put a color coded overhead transparency up showing the Stanford Achievement Test results for zip codes on the island of Oahu. He then overlaid the first transparency with a second showing the percentages of students in the free and reduced lunch program. The correlation between the two was something that was incredibly striking. Fresh off my reading of Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol, I remember flippantly thinking, “Why do we bother giving the test? Let’s just look at the free and reduced lunch statistics and be done with it …”
There is something incredibly discouraging to realized that after all this time, things really haven’t changed a whole lot. I truly loved my time teaching in the public school system, but time and frustration crushed me to some extent and the system ended up changing me more than I was able to bring change to the system. As a young teacher, I had vowed that if I ever became one of the burned out cynical old-timers that some (but far from all) of the teachers around me had become, that I’d move on and find something else to do. That is what I did in the end. The something else for me, turned out to be becoming a librarian in an independent school. WORLDS APART from the public schools where my teaching career began. As much as I complain (mostly online) about things at work, I truly do have one of the great jobs on the planet!
Part of me, though, will always feel a tinge of regret and guilt that I sold out for decent working conditions and a good medical plan. In my heart I know that had I stayed, the burned out version of me would have been a help to nobody, but the pangs of guilt are still there.
To all of you out there doing a good job teaching kids in schools where funding is poor and conditions are less than great. Thank you for the work that you continue to do!