The zip code you live in determines whether your children are educated for the multibillion dollar prison system or the multibillion dollar higher education systems. America rank low in many academic scores because she gambles with the lives of her children to satisfy greed and racial beliefs. America is willing to sacrifice world leadership as long as the financial markets shows a significant return on investments. America is willing to permit investors to ruin health care systems to increase the profit margins for insurance investors. America is willing to permit feeder system from select zip codes to determine who succeeds and who fails as long as a profit is realized for investors. African Americans and the working class poor discovered this a long time ago, and created system to get around these acts of injustice. Fathers have worked as janitors in unscaled communities in order to make it possible for his family and children to live in a better zip code and receive the educational benefits reserved for the priviledged. It is wrong, and that God for the Historical Black Churches and Catholic Churches, which took another path to doing the right thing. Zip codes should not determine the quality of your policemen, teachers, doctors and politicians, but it does, and it is wrong.

Education in New York City and America is a religion; it is the process by which we learn our values and belief systems. We are not born into the faiths and beliefs of what it means to be an American; we are educated to be Americans. Birth is one of the requirements to decide legal status, those not entering through birth, are required to pledge allegiance to the values for which the country stands and will support and defend its traditions. The values and traditions of the country and its faith must be taught to each American, starting in childhood and primary school. It is in school that citizens learn to value his neighbor and the rights of each person to life liberty and the pursuit to happiness. Liberty and happiness comes from fair work and honor, and the ability to work comes from a good education. A failed education system, produces a failed citizen, and derails the ability of an individual to secure employment necessary for the pursuit of happiness. A planned failed education system is a sin before God. There is a lot of sin going on in education.

 

Something is wrong with our education system; well intentional young men and women are spending thousands of dollars to attend teacher preparation programs, which prepare them to dumb down American students, especially those in the lower economic classes. This was not the intent or purpose, and the discovery of this reality can have a significant affect on the emotional and physical health of new teachers. Teachers learn a theology, which will result in the spiritual destruction of their self- image.

It is often difficult to discuss and prove issues relating to problems in the New York City education system. How would one prove inferior education delivered to some students? How would one prove that some colleges and universities are sending an inferior product into the classrooms to work with some students? No sane individual would sacrifice time and resources to study for four to six years, and accumulate thousands of dollars in educational loans to learn how not to educated students.

This suggests that teachers are not aware that they are receiving and inferior education, and they are learning how to pass on that inferior education to students. It is often not until a new teacher enters into a classroom and works hard at his or her craft that it becomes evident that hard work and dedication was not producing the desired results. It is as if a doctor was assigned to work with patients, and all of the patients died.

The teacher’s students do not die, but they do a lot of kicking, screaming and acting up. After blaming the parents, the neighborhood, the quality and lack of motivation of the students, the teacher realizes that it is not the students, but the quality of preparation received that is responsible for the problem. Teachers also become aware that they must return to college, and at significant expense, pay to learn the practical skills of how to teach. If the teacher is strong and has the financial resources, these skills can be learned. Thirty percent of new teachers however, leave the system within the first three years. Some of those who remain continue to play the race and blame game and become a major factor in what is wrong with the education system in New York City.

How would one prove that the teachers unions fight harder to keep poorly prepared teachers in the system than it does to demand that the universities send better prepared teachers into the classrooms? How does one prove that the political parties have abandoned their responsibility to represent the powerless and participate in the delivery of inferior education to poor and minority neighborhoods?

This is a Black issue, and it is necessary for Black teachers, and teachers who are concerned, to speak on these issues. There are not many of these teachers in the New York City education system, but there are enough to speak out on issues of injustice to the students. Black teachers have joined white teachers in condemning the behaviors of students without asking why the students are acting up in the classroom.

Students in economically challenged and powerless school districts are getting a second-class education in the public schools of America, and especially in New York City. There are high quality schools delivering first class education in the country in New York City, however, most minority and black students do not have access to these schools because of lack of knowledge and funds.

In order to have a place in one of these schools, students must achieve reading and math scores above grade levels. In order to achieve math and reading scores above grade levels, students must have access to the best teachers. The best teachers do not get an opportunity to work with black, minority, and low economic students in New York City, and are reserved for school in upper income districts.

Asian and other students of color are often separated from black students and placed in what are considered advanced classes. These students are not subjected to lower expectations, and are unable to understand the cultural codes of the environment. Parents compete helplessly for vouchers to Charter schools in a desperate effort to give their children a fighting chance for their future. Judas politicians and poverty pimps try to convince other mothers to keep their children in the failing public schools, and even try to prevent the closing of under performing schools.

Frustrated students will often exhibit unacceptable behaviors, resulting in teachers and administrators labeling them as “at risk” students. These students are often aware that they are being used by a political system, which has un- written and un-spoken agreements to provide the future generation with an efficient service class. Students are either born into or educated into the middle or upper classes in American society. New teachers will say that “these students” are impossible to teach, and give themselves an excuse for not teaching the students.

The term minority has now been expanded to include poor white students and women. It is almost impossible to have the conversation about an inferior education delivery system due to language.

Educators speak a special language that does not permit the introduction of new concepts and ideas. Curriculum language controls the system, there has to be another method of communicating with parents and community leaders in order to help them redirect students into first class education programs. Parents and concerned educators can research some of the history of the Black Church in America, it provides some information and guidelines for producing successful students in an environment designed to hold back progress. The New York City educational system delivers separate but unequal education to students. Some students get the best that is available, and some get a second-class education. Further research is needed to determine if there are separate and unequal teacher preparation systems. Until the politics surrounding this question can be determined, it is necessary to provide parents and teachers with the skills they need to do the best for the students.

Parents, sometimes, must be encouraged to do the exact opposite of what they are told to do to support their children. Teachers must learn how to close their doors and find the time and the methods to deliver a quality education experience to students. This will not be easy because the new teacher is under the strict control of the education system. The system will place a new teacher under a strict time management program designed to track all instructional activities and content. Supervisors are instructed to monitor the exact amount of time a teacher spends on each subject.

Teachers who attempt to develop creative ways of teaching students, which fall outside of the second-class delivery system, are usually “punished” within the system. Each school and each supervisor has his or her own un-written method of punishment. The Black Church, which had experience helping teachers to get around this system, usually provided space where teachers and community could work together to help students.

Teachers may have to find outside learning environment in which to teach students. Faith-based institutions, community centers and museums are excellent environment available to teachers caught in these second-class education systems. Usually some teachers just transfer out of these second-class systems as soon as possible. Teachers who are “called” will stay on their post, and find some way to deliver the un-sung professional excellence to all students. This also requires a different approach for parents. Again, the historical documentation of the black family and how it survived the educational system in this country will be of value. America does not permit the transfer from one socio-economic class to another to be an easy experience. The only way this is achieved is through education, and the public school educational system is the gatekeeper to prevent that change.   Parents must help their children with schoolwork. This may require purchasing additional books from the private sector, and registering their children in church based after school programs. It may also require planning regular trips at the local museums. Only public school parents in poor neighborhoods are told that it is cheating to help their children with schoolwork. In other socio-economic classes, parents help students or pay for private tutoring programs for their students. Every church in neighborhoods with failing schools should open free after school centers and encourage senior citizens in the church to come out during the week and help the students. Teachers working in the community can be invited to make arrangements with parents to have them bring their students to the churches after school for additional help.

Parents must teach students information the student needs to pass test. Parents must provide tutors for their children. Parents must teach children how to survive in a school environment, and be prepared to support their children when necessary. Many students are having a “great time” in school, while the serious student; often called a “nerd” is left out of the fun; in the end, it is the students who are left out, and the “nerds” placed in separate education systems.

Black parents may have to cut out some of the freedom and fun experienced by some students, and help them to keep their eyes on the prize. Southern Black schools and teachers understood this, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the southern parts of the United States, prepared teachers for the task of teaching for success.

The information systems, which controls the delivery of education has been programmed with the idea that black students are inferior and they are not capable of functioning on higher academic levels. Teachers and principals who try to get around this programming usually meet with resistance, political and legal entanglements.

There is a dual education system operating in New York City, which provides high quality education for anyone who is able to escape from the public system. Private citizens and corporate America are willing to under right minority students who are able to escape. The black community does not help in this endeavor, first most do not know what is happening, and second, they have been conditioned to accept the idea that if they take their children out of the failing system, they are doing a disservice to public education.

America needs scientist, mathematicians, engineers and technologist, but they will not get them from the public schools, especially from public schools serving minority and low income students.

Public schools serving minority and black students usually operate remedial programs. These remedial programs are designed to teach the same information ineffectively over and over again. Students can never reach the advanced math classes needed to enter the better academic schools, because the colleges and universities are not preparing teachers with the skills to teach math and science.

The excellent specialized schools in New York City have been reserved for white and Asian students. Principals separating Asian do this and white students from the minority population, and providing specially selected experienced teachers to work with these students.

The minority students are usually left with inexperienced first year teachers who have no skills in teaching and absolutely no skills in working with a diverse population. Colleges and universities are not willing to change the curriculum used to prepare teachers for working in the public sector. Colleges and universities provide second class training for education majors, and these teacher enter the public education system, and continue miss educating students.

Spiritual teachers will either have to start a separate education system to encourage science and engineering skills among student, or major institutions will have to step into the education game. Here, the church can play a major role.

The answer to America’s education crisis will come from minority teachers. There must be a change in the way teachers are prepared to work with a diverse student population. This is more an issue of class rather than race.

Some teachers experience some of the same concerns, especially the discovery of a dual education system operating in New York City. This dual system provides a quality education to students who have been conditioned to act and behave in ways that are not challenging for some teachers.

Some teachers have indicated that they like a challenge from students, but experience has indicated that those teachers worked in special education departments. Teachers come to teach and not deal with acting out behaviors. This is not a race issue, because experienced teachers did not permit acting out behaviors in students. Washington Heights, the decision was made to start a top academic school in the area.

Teachers who worked in the district, called district 6 at that time, were instructed to submit the names of student with superior academic records. These students, after obtaining permission from parents, were placed in this selective school. The teachers were then requested to submit the names of students with good academic records, and the same procedure followed.

The system took the cream out of the schools, and then returned for the milk; teachers were left with the water, and preceded to teach. Any student selected causing any difficulties, was promptly returned to the sending school. This school called Mott Hall[1] became the top performing school not only in the district, but also in the entire New York City area. This dual form of education is repeated throughout the city. New teachers will never be admitted to these schools, and students with challenging behaviors will seldom benefit from the quality education provided this select group of students.

Throughout the city, select schools are providing high standards of education for the cream and the milk of American students, most teachers however, are struggling to work with the watered down remains, and those are usually minority students, often African American. Some teachers resent working with this group of students, some have no choice. The majority of teachers in New York City are white, and black teachers are choosing not to enter the field of education. This is a project from a Black teachers perspective because:

  • Issues relating to teacher burn out have some relationship to working in minority and diverse neighborhoods.
  • There is a need for some input from African American teachers on the question of teacher education, and job satisfaction.
  • Information relating to Black and minority populations is usually incorrect, and this incorrect information is used to prepare individuals to teach.
  • The decline in African American teachers have made it difficult to correct some of the misconceptions about student population
  • How can a teacher relate to students if a considerable amount of the information the teacher has learned about the students and his or her social or ethnic group is incorrect?

The question must be asked, are minority students a contributing factor in teacher burn out, or are there other causes?

The media blames the ethnicity of the student for the difficulty some teachers are experiencing in some classrooms. Is it spirit or preparation, which failed the teacher and contributed to feelings of frustration?

Are students of the 21st century more difficult to manage than their mothers and fathers, or has information concerning these students been incorrect. It is necessary to get to the root cause of burnout before considering developing programs to prevent its occurrence. Is it the soul or the head that is in a state of confusion? If it were the soul, then spiritual transformation would be effective.

If it is the head, then it is necessary to determine what has been placed in the heads of some of these teachers, which prevent them from being effective in the classroom?

Colleges and universities and belief systems influence the head. Here state legislatures, college presidents, professors and teacher preparation curriculums are the blame. If it is the heart, then sessions in spiritual institution of ones individual faith may hold the answer. There could also develop curriculums in compassionate preparation and compassionate delivery. Can education train individuals to be compassionate, or is it necessary to select compassionate individuals for select professions?

What do teachers really know about their students? How well do they know the demographic information relating to minority populations, and how accurate is that information?

Black teachers are tired of fighting against a wall of incorrect information. They fight the college professors for teaching incorrect information. They fight their co-workers for preparing lessons based on this incorrect information.     

They fight the students for believing the information distributed through the media and textbooks is correct. They fight themselves for subjecting themselves to what appear to some to be a losing battle. Some elect to leave and go into corporate America.

Further research to investigate how Black students feel when they are involved in schools where some teachers have low expectations regarding their capabilities.

The minority students are unfairly subjected to some unfair conditions relating to schools and the individuals selected to work in some of schools. This has been an injustice, a silent injustice against teachers and students. There has been two significant factors fighting against this silent but powerful injustice, and that has been, the Black Church, and the Black teacher.

If there is a decline in the number of Black men and women entering into the field of education, then the question should be asked why? The Black church has lost its call to academic excellence for its children, and has elected to focus on issues relating to different concerns within the community.

The Black church and the Black teacher have been the silent unsung heroes of this magical progress of the African American, in this country, regardless of the negative statistics. Historically Black Colleges and Universities, educated their teachers for a different purpose, and different from many white colleges and universities.

Black teachers were trained to expect excellence and achievement from black students regardless of their social circumstances. Those Black teachers, who did not receive this training from college, received it in and from the Black church. It was these teachers and churches that turned out doctors, lawyers, scientist, politician, businessmen, ministers, health care workers, and responsible citizens.

Pastors of Black churches are going after the wrong enemy. They fight street gangs, they conduct prison ministry, and they work with the kid who is strung out on drugs. These are easy un-solved battles. No changes take place, and there will always be plenty of work. The battleground in the past for the black church was always, education.

If the black population could become educated, they would be able to solve their own problems. Black teachers were committed to this program, and black churches ran their own education institutions. There must be a motivation to get back to that spiritual challenge. Not only are teachers abandoning their call, black teachers, black pastors and black churches are abandoning the call to reach and teach.

Where are the healers? Children are walking through life blind, with no one to restore sight. Students lie at the door of knowledge and do not know how to get up and walk in. Who forgives the sins of the past, and encourages the sinner to go and sin no more? This is the role that has been abandoned by those called to serve in the field of education.

There are many changes taking place in the geographically located area in New York City know as Harlem. White people have come to Harlem. They have come with their hopes, dreams, skills and baby carriages. They plan to have an active participation in the community and its affairs. There are many high-rise building developing all over the community. The poor area, which this writer grew up in as a child, is now considered an up-scaled section.

The question is what affect will this have on the school system in the area. District 5, the school district, which served Harlem, had the reputation of delivering poor quality educations to the students. Teachers were not aware of this, but the parents were. Teachers were dedicated, and worked hard in the delivery of low quality education to what had been considered a low quality student body. Many black parents recognizing this had long fled to the suburbs in search of quality education for their children, leaving behind those who were trapped and could not move.

Competent educators abandoned these schools and children, and churches remained silent why the community suffered and resented their children being used as training grounds for teachers, who lacked the preparation to secure employment in more up scaled neighbors. The politicians looked the other way and benefited from the public schools being the supply factories for a well-funded prison system. Teachers caught up in this system lasted as long as they could, and broken hearted and broken in spirit elected to leave the system. It is hoped, that this project will address this issue of spirit for the teachers, and provide an opportunity for them to develop the skills and the spiritual skills to answer their call to teach in a competent way.

Until the education delivery system in the city of New York, change the teacher preparation programs, especially in the City University, which prepares a significant number of the teachers in the public schools, churches must address the issue. This suggests that churches become educational centers, and provide tutorial programs for children and teachers. Riverside church will become one of these centers with the development of a spiritual formation ministry for teachers, which included spiritual nurturing for teachers, and pragmatic workshops in lesson planning and classroom management.

The teacher is the moral and spiritual guide in the classroom, and when he or she is stressed, then it will affect the entire educational system. The church has a major role to play in addressing the issue of teacher burnout, and provide the spiritual strength for the teacher to be the change agent in a failing system destined for future success.

It is hoped that some of the events discussed in this essay have changed, and this retired teacher is discussing  situations, which belong to a diffferent century, and that teachers are better prepared, policemen are trained to have compassion for the stranger and the emotionally fragile. It is hoped that health care systems are the same for people all over the country, and college graduates are not being oppressed by unpayable college loans and worthless degrees. It is hoped that some caring group of people are watching the store called America and taking care of the  business of America. It is hoped that political systems do not plan failure for segments of its populations. It is hoped that this paper is out of touch with reality, but currents media reports of the 21st century suggests that America still has a problem. The problem and the issue is social justice, and can we afford NOT to be our brother’s keeper?  

  • [1] The Mott Hall School, IS 223, is a public school in Region 10/Community School 6 in the North Harlem/Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City .

 

http://gsas.cumc.columbia.edu/interior.php?sub=5_4

 

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