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Initial Issue

Hannah9's picture

One issue that has really struck me and been brought up in a few different locations (City Schools and the American Dream, the chapter in “What Teachers Need to Know About Poverty” in City Kids, City Schools)seems to be the extremely difficult position urban public school teachers find themselves in. Certainly there are several actors impacted in considering the myriad of issues affecting urban public schools but for the purposes of this initial post, I wanted to highlight the tough role of the urban education teacher.

A big, perennial question seems to be: How can teachers possibly address the complicated situations/conditions students come into school with? As we’ve read, urban public school kids often come from trying backgrounds -- perhaps they are living below the poverty line which forces them to have to “grow up” early by getting a job and having to juggle multiple responsibilities like Miguel Fernandez, maybe they are from a family with only one parent or they are struggling to adjust to a new cultural setting as an immigrant. These students are coming into the school with a lot of important issues and struggles that need to be addressed and for a teacher attempting to meet a daily lesson plan or the goals in a greater curriculum, it must be hard to do what you need to get done every day as an educator and also act as a supportive, guiding authority who meaningfully cares about her students. It is a lot to take on. Furthermore, how do you give enough time and attention to multiple students dealing with their specific hard situations?

Not to mention, urban public school teachers must deal with a dearth of resources on top of it all. The aforementioned issues are exacerbated by underfunding, poor infrastructure, and a lack of attention from local and government policymakers. With all these concerns in mind, it is perhaps no wonder that urban public school teachers “burn out” quickly and leave a school within a few years. I wonder what ways teacher can be better equipped and feel less helpless.


jccohen's picture


I'm glad you chose to focus on the issues in urban schools in terms of the demands on teachers, which - as you note - are considerable.  Teachers' challenges are often under-appreciated, and your posts takes this on.  I'd also note that urban teachers have opportunities to work with vital and engaging students, and that this is part of the pleasure of the work.  As we continue in the course, we'll move more deeply into teachers' perspectives and into classrooms; all of this will speak to the issues you raise here, and might well make for a rich issue paper.