I previously taught in a large city’s public schools, from 7th through 12th grades. I was, perhaps, more fortunate than the writer. I seldom found myself in consistently bad schools.
But, what makes a school “bad”? Generally, it’s poor administrators, combined with idiotic district-level decisions about discipline and behavior. Together, they can take a school from a place of orderly learning and student achievement, to a chaotic mess with violence, teacher and student assaults (without punishment – unless the TEACHER is disciplined for getting hit), and failure to learn.
It’s NOT that kids in the city schools are stupider than those in the ‘burbs. I’ve always found the range of academic potential to be similar.
What differs is administrative support for actual learning, willingness to discipline the unruly, ability to stand up to unreasonable or threatening parents and community leaders, and support for the program from district officials. And, some money to:
- Keep the school clean (along with the ability to get those out who will not do their job
- Hire EFFECTIVE security (and fire the ineffective and/or dishonest)
- Replace old books, upgrade equipment, and provide support for teacher training on that equipment