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A Big Fish In A Small Causal Pond


Once again, there seems to be two poles of thought afoot in the land. One side argues that, yes, teaching matters--but not as much as poverty and parenting. The other claims poverty is just an excuse for lazy teaching. As an educated, African American parent (and now teacher), I have witnessed uneven teacher performance in my children's urban public schools. Most of their teachers were outstanding, committed educators. But my wife and I were lucky and learned how to navigate the system. Along the way, I also observed a number of teachers who would never be allowed to even enter a suburban classroom. I realized early on that no matter how many times I read Good Night, Moon to my kids, or visited the museum, or enrolled in enrichment programs, urban education itself was unequal and sometimes separate. Poorer kids with disconnected roots often received the poorer teachers more astute parents learned to avoid. As a nation, we have much soul-searching to do as we trudge forward on the battlefield called education. As a teacher, I know I have a role to play--but "where" and "how" are less definitive. As a parent, I know the role my wife and I assumed in steering our children through urban public schools made the difference. As an American, I know childhood poverty is a menace whose potential remedies are as taxing as its causes. As a human being, I am sickened by the minds wasting on the sidelines while the empowered huddle and decide. For more on my teaching experiences, please visit

Great, until the end when you choose to acknowledge that teacher quality is the most important factor by calling out and naming only that factor at your close. Perhaps you should have laid out the truth one more time.


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