Saturday, July 2, 2016

Teaching: The Noblest Profession

There are many things I find disturbing about Teach for America's rise to influence, but one of those is encouraging its corps members and financial supporters think that the classroom is a way station to more important things rather than THE place someone should be if they want to expand educational opportunity. That it why it was so inspiring to hear Jim Pruitt, a legendary Bronx teacher, say at his sister's 90th Birthday celebration that becoming a teacher was the "noblest professional choice one could make" Jim was one of five children in a Bronx African American family who made that choice, and while some of his siblings became principals and district administrators, they only did so after many years in the classroom, not after two or three year stint, as many TFA products have done in recent years. We need to go back to the "Pruitt Philosophy" and start recruiting talented dedicated people to spend most of their career in the classroom, and use the wisdom of those veteran teachers to inspire new people entering the profession. Can we move in that direction, or are we condemned to keep producing a disposable teaching force whose instability deprives young people of the mentoring and relationship building that is at the core of great teaching?