Why are schools so ‘bad’?

Conversation #1

I recently talked to a new neighbor and wound up in an informal, unofficial interview about education and the local high school. Without disclosing the schools she mentioned (or her name), she stated that, “the schools are fine but it depends on what teacher you get.” Before I elaborate let me just say that she works as part of the staff in the local high school but chose to send her daughters to the local Catholic High School.

A few assumptions can be made that are as follows:

  • The public high school is ‘fine’ but it wasn’t good enough for you to send your daughters to attend?
  • You didn’t give the school a chance but you implied a recommendation for my family…
  • You would rather pay money for your daughters to attend a different private school rather than put them in the closer public school for free?

WHAT IS WRONG WITH OUR PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM?! Are other schools (Catholic, private, charter etc.) better than public schools?

As an educator for a charter school I don’t know what happens inside of a public school. What I do know is the following:

  • If you don’t love this job of teaching you better get out because everyone thinks you should, especially the ones your teaching
  • Irrespective of the goods and services, resources, school location, or student demographic all students will learn once you hit the Sweet Spot

I have the same students you do if you teach in Philadelphia (or a similar urban setting). I run my classes like college courses and expect nothing less than perfection. I work hard to learn from my mistakes, the mistakes of my students and the mistakes of my administration. I love teaching, education, technology and all students! All of my weaknesses will be my students’ strengths.

Conversation #2

A few days later I found myself circling back to the same topic of Education but this time I thrust my views of a corrupt and misaligned administration (coupled with teacher unions among other things) upon a family friend. [Dear Family Friend,] If you read this I am sorry but I am so frustrated!  I told her what I thought were  the reasons why our schools are down and out. The neighborhood, resources, or students shouldn’t matter but:

(If the (teacher develops rapport with the students) + the administration is (trustworthy, altruistic, consistent)) = Student SUCCESS

No matter how you put it, I feel you need a formula to make sure your school isn’t bad but successful! What do you think about our bad schools? Is there such a thing as a bad school?

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