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16 – Would You Answer This Ad?

Would you answer this ad?

NEW ORLEANS — Wanted: Idealistic teachers looking for a Peace Corps-style adventure in a city in distress.

I know…I know…It sounds good, but don’t believe the hype! “Adventure” is quite a stretch in the use of euphemism. My experience has been anything short of an “adventure.” When I think of the word “adventure,” I think of fun on the tangy side!

Besides…anything that is described as a “Peace Corps-style adventure”…yet takes place in America…sounds scary to me!

Norman Smith III, recruited to Rabouin High, said he wanted to make a difference in the lives of kids wary of authority and uncertain of their potential. It has been tough at times, he said.

Smith is right…and tough is understatement! Finding QUALIFIED teachers who are willing to commit to such conditions is close to impossible. The school where I teach employs recruits from Teach for America. One stipulation of TFA is that the candidate must commit to one school site for two years…and before being placed at the school site, TFA candidates are given a summer-long crash course in teaching.

When I first met the TFAers in orientation, I took one look at them and thought Oh…You’re going to be eaten alive! Ironically, it has been the veteran teachers who have had more problems than the TFAers…granted, the vets are equipped with the teaching experience…but the TFAers have the magic ingredient – IDEALISM!

The two TFAers I work with are phenomenal people who (I think) will take their experiences at this hell hole and (hopefully) make a larger mark on the world…but they won’t stay in the field of teaching. Idealism is plentiful when you know it has a shelf-life! I hope this place does not suck them as dry as it has sucked me.

Many of the schools inherited by the state were run down even before Katrina, plagued by leaky roofs, lead paint or poor heating systems. Many of the students are indifferent to learning or are far behind, with some freshmen unable to read and some teenagers disappearing for days. Some have been arrested for fighting with each other or beating up security guards. Some schools lack classroom supplies.

Save for the lead paint, the school mentioned in the above quote sounds like a shoe-in for where I work. From my perspective as a vet, there’s not enough IDEALISM in the world to convince me that this situation is acceptable…especially since I know that this school system has recently received largesse from a wealthy philanthropist (to the tune of $3 Billion)…no school in this school system should be without anything, and our security systems should be tip-top! I feel like I work in a third world country.

At Rabouin High, which has about 600 students, the halls echo with the shouts of teenagers who should be in class. Many have to share textbooks, if they have them at all. Doors lack knobs or, in the case of a girls’ bathroom, don’t close completely. Students have to pass through a metal detector to get inside, and guards patrol the halls.

You would almost have to see it with your own eyes to believe it, but YES! IT IS TRUE!!! If someone told me, a year ago, that a school like where I work exists, I would never believe them. This is real, folks! In fact, it is so real it makes me wonder why politicians don’t take more interest in the welfare of education, or why the N.A.A.C.P. doesn’t pick up this cause…a REAL cause (more to come on that topic)!

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Posted by on May 2, 2008 in Work

 

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