A reader writes in support of low-income and working-class families and reminds us of the importance of collaboration:
Diane, thanks again for your clarity and calm through what must have been a difficult week. Your small manifesto looks so obvious, when it is quietly laid out.
Unfortunately, the conversation also gets hijacked by those with an agenda to attack low-income families, and working class parents in general, with false and degrading stereotypes. When that happens, it undermines the teachers who serve the majority of honorable inner city residents and uneducated, but nonetheless dedicated, low-income parents. It undermines our support for the struggles of real people to attain fair and just education opportunities for their own children, and it undermines the struggle of teachers to provide one.
It reinforces the political drive to destroy public education, with the underlying argument that economically stressed Americans can disinvest in the education of the “hopeless” poor, and save their own children by setting up willfully exclusive institutions.
Commentators have to be careful not to let their own “side” do that in the name of the teaching profession. Notice that the opponents of public schooling readily join in on such denunciations; its their bread and butter, after all.
Two decades ago, I subbed in a Boston high school with a newly appointed minority principal (it was Juliet Johnson, in fact). Court ordered busing had desegregated the students, but not the entrenched teaching corps, and some older teachers really did maintain a mutually reinforcing culture of bitterness, racial prejudice, and resentment. The generation parenting today’s Boston students suffered those attitudes as children.
Their trust isn’t automatic, especially considering the concerted attack their own children now face. Colleagues, let’s build trust with the families we serve, and earn it, and cherish it. When family support does break under the onslaught of violence or drugs or despair, there is a whole community in place that knows it, and tries to come to the rescue of its own children. Reach out to them, and lets add our voices to theirs.