Superman Beware-The Kryptonite Report
Hello everyone, my name is Todd Frantz . I have been teaching in Chicago since 1997 and understand first hand the challenges of urban education. I decided to start a blog because I feel we need a forum that is uniquely suited for urban educators. I have always found it difficult to find teaching strategies that are not only practical but designed specifically for our population of students. I have grown frustrated attending conferences that do not speak to the challenges that teachers face in urban settings. Too often we are forced to adapt ideas that do not account for our unique set of challenges and have not been field tested in the inner-city.
The plight of urban education is well documented. The film "Waiting for Superman" is a perfect example. It belongs to that genre of reporting that holds teachers solely responsible for the failings of public education. A more apt name for the movie, in my opinion, would have been: "Waiting for parents". I think the biggest impediment to student achievement in the inner city is parental apathy. Many of our students are not getting that "second day of school" when they get home. It's an uphill battle trying to enlist the support of parents and sustaining their involvement. Our most recent Open House is indicative of the weak school-parent connection that is typical in many inner city schools. Despite phone calls to parents, flyers, emails , website postings,only six of my parents showed up during the three hour event. I believe this has a negative effect on student achievment and impedes our ability to make positive change in our schools. When I was coaching soccer, I was lucky to have one parent show up to a game-even regional quarter finals. Compare this to the scenes of hundreds of families eagerly assembled for the admissions lottery depicted in the movie. It is both moving and depressing at the same time. I wish we could repliate that energy everywhere. Any school fortunate enough to receive such a motivated and dedicated group of parents has a huge advantage over schools whose parents are uninvolved and lethargic. Undoubtedly, there are teachers who have no business in the classroom. There needs to be greater accountabilty and a vehicle for removing individuals who are a detriment to children.
CPS doesn't need Superman they need the whole darn Justice League. Maybe the "Wonder Twins could use their powers to activate in the form of a "VISION". I mean I have to laugh at the analogy, BUT if Superman showed up in Chicago (or any BIG CITY USA) he would be rendered helpless in the face of so much Kryptonite. Whether it be poor leadership, bad teachers, lack of resources, parental apathy, gang violence, truancy or ridiculous levels of mobility, there are many reasons for failure. There are simply too many stakeholders and variables at play in a child's education to single out teachers. It's simplistic, naive and shuts down a more comprehensive discussion on the state of our schools. There is enough blame to go around for everyone. Unfortunately, the public has shown it's willingness drink this kool aid . They have found a convenient whipping boy in teachers to explain the social woes that have been plaguing our country for years.
I look forward to sharing my ideas about education and comments in the months come.