I went to public school at a time when teachers would co-plan (heck, could plan) throughout the school year and could – nay, were expected – to bring rich, challenging material to their students. I knew, even as an adolescent, that the reason my high school experience was so solid was because I went to school in a predominantly white, upper-middle class area. That high school was and remains a ‘feeder’ school for the state’s top public university. Students were and are simply expected to be prepared for rigorous course work that demanded not only academic skill but insight, too.
I became a public school teacher to share some of my experiences at a school that serves students who might have heritages and backgrounds similar to my own but who can’t attend schools like to my high school Alma Mater. Unfortunately for my students, however, there isn’t an infrastructure in place where I currently teach that supports the type of learning I had the privilege to access, and, in fact, the structure that IS in place is meant to ensure that – at best – my students are able to perform the ’21st Century’ tasks deemed necessary by organizations outside of the classroom.
Which is a shame, because in my old high school and in private prep schools all across the country, students are getting and will be able to apply in their lives skills that my students can barely imagine. For the past almost 15 years, I’ve done everything I can to bring the rigor and innovation I’ve encountered in my own education – from high school through grad school – to my classrooms, but, unfortunately, finally, whiteness and its need to protect any challenge to its superiority and dumb apathy have won.