Great teachers are hard to find. Chicagoland schools in the city and the suburbs are deficient and not doing their jobs. A major responsibility falls on the teachers, whoa re not doing enough, and the excessive focus and resource commitments to school administrations. Cut the administrations and grade teachers for their work
By Ray HananiaRay Hanania
I’ve never received more emails from readers than I did when I wrote a few weeks back about the failure of our local high schools to prepare our children to be “college ready.”
As you may recall, only 60 percent of high school students are “college ready” when they graduate.
That’s pretty pathetic. When I received 60 percent on my school work, that was considered being on the edge of failure. Only a few high schools are graduating more than 70 percent of their students “ready for college.”
A few of the people who emailed were teachers angry with the suggestion that the fault rests on the shoulders of the teachers. That’s fair. I don’t blame ALL of the teachers. I do blame many of them but I do blame the administrations of the schools the most.
When I went to high school. Students with learning challenges were pretty much pushed into a corner. There were several students who sat in the corner and were never challenged by the teachers, who instead seemed to regale in the brilliance of a handful of students who got straight A’s, oftentimes even without trying.
Some kids are A students. Some kids are C students. A few graduated only because they weren’t troublesome.
There are some great teachers, though. Brilliant ones. And sadly, as much as teachers don’t want to admit it, there are a lot of teachers who are crap. But rather than call those teachers out, they protect them. They circle around them and help deflect the criticism because to many teachers, and especially to the teaching system, a D is a passing great. Not a great one but the teachers don’t want to waste their valuable talents helping students who can barely make Ds or Cs and would rather spend their efforts helping the B and A students.
Well, it’s more fun for a teacher to be around a smart student and so depressing to be around a student that is a D student.
If I were a teacher, I’d want to be remembered as a brilliant teacher. I wouldn’t push aside the concerns of students just because I was overwhelmed. I’d focus on the students with the challenges.
That doesn’t always happen though.
I skated through grade school and the first two years of high school as a D and C student. I flunked English composition repeatedly. I didn’t read any books. I couldn’t write and I wasn’t a student leader. The system designated me as a “skater,” just moving. As long as I was moving, the system was happy with me. Because a D was good enough.
I lucked out in my junior year at Reavis High school (my 4th high school after Bown, Bogan and Little Flower). I stumbled into a classroom by one of those teachers who did care, Mrs. Harris. I don’t know where she is today, but if it wasn’t for her, I don’t know what I would be doing.
She challenged me. Asked me what I liked to do. I played a mean lead guitar in a high school band. She asked me to write a column about rock music for the school newspaper, The Blueprint, and I did. In my senior year, I was named the newspaper’s editor-in-chief.
It’s part of the reason I got into journalism and became a writer. Granted, not everyone loves my views, but my writings can move you to passion or anger, which is all I can hope for.
I don’t expect every teacher to be a “Mrs. Harris.” But I do expect them to try. And clearly, not enough of them are trying enough.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. Email him at email@example.com.)