Educational Reform in Urban Schools

“You can’t teach! Everyday it’s something. Mornings the kids come in, there’s been a shooting or something, and that’s all they’re thinking about. It doesn’t matter what techniques you use, it doesn’t make any difference. It’s because the community is dysfunctional; the parents are dysfunctional; and so are the kids.” – Anyon (1997).

Urban students are often labeled as unmotivated, apathetic, and without goals. Even though urban teachers are hesitant to acknowledge the fault, they do have low expectations for their students and do not push them to reach their potential. These are the students usually coming from single-parent households and living in some of the roughest places in the city.

It is hard for the parent to take part in their child’s education because he or she might have one or more jobs to support the family. Apart from struggling to survive, constant havoc is also a part of their everyday lives. Fear walks with these students everywhere they go. When they attend school, education is not their top priority.

Education is not emphasized, and there is nobody present to support students in their efforts to be successful. Students need to feel like there is somebody on their side. If they feel as if nobody cares whether or not they succeed, they stop caring about education. Although not all urban students end up on the streets, sadly, many drop out of high school and engage in harmful activities such as drugs and gangs. These kinds of behaviors have been reinforcing the stereotype that urban city students are failures in the eyes of the educational world, a mindset that continues to keep urban city schools from improving.

Teachers are the backbones of education, and if reform is going to occur, they are going to have to be the start. Urban city schools need good teachers in the classrooms. Urban schoolteachers have to face many difficulties that suburban school teachers do not necessarily encounter. They are expected to teach in rundown schools and with outdated resources.

Apart from bad working conditions, they are responsible for educating students who are destined to fail, no matter how hard they try. New urban school teachers often leave the field after two or three years because they cannot handle the challenges and stress that accompanies their position. In suburban schools, new teachers experience the same issues, perhaps less severe, but they are given support from the administration and other teachers.

The new teachers of urban schools are expected to take on the responsibilities of an experienced teacher, and they are not given support to aid them with their challenges. Because so, many of these teachers either move to new schools or leave the profession.

New teachers are not experienced enough in the field to deal with these issues. Urban city schools need teachers who are willing to stay and work with the students and not those who give up in search for schools with better working conditions.

If urban schools are to truly improve, experienced teachers need to be hired. Many new teachers enter the classroom with the attitude they are going to “save” the students from the streets. They are at first motivated and want their students to love them. They are excited about teaching, but when they realize their students could care less about them, they become discouraged, and with nobody to turn to for support, they quit.

If urban city schools were to hire experienced teachers who have realized the challenges of teaching, they would be more likely to stay instead of running the first chance they get. The school would be full of experienced and permanent teachers instead of turning new teachers like tables at a restaurant: there for a little while and then gone.

If experienced teachers, those who genuinely cared for their students enough to stay and work with them, filled the classrooms, students would have a better chance at educational success and perhaps less of them would turn to the streets. Students need support, and if teachers are leaving left and right, who are they going to turn to? Urban schools need to improve, and it is up to teachers to make reform possible. If all teachers flock to suburban schools, urban schools are never going to improve.