The state education department is spending time debating on a label?� They are afraid of demoralizing teachers and students?� Some feel it will stop new teachers from applying at these districts. As a teacher at one of these underperforming schools I don't feel demoralized by a label.� And, like many teachers I know, we got into the profession to make a difference.� For those that want to inspire and change the lives of those that have so little these underperforming schools are the best place to be.� But we need to be talking about something else.� Why are these schools underperforming?�
I can only speak for myself, but after six years of working in underperforming school districts the possible answer just smacks me in the face every day.� The working poor and the working class families, which all of these school districts have in common, cannot do it all.� And those that have never lived this life cannot imagine how really difficult it is.� Because the parents work all the time, the children pick up the responsibilities that these parents cannot do.
For instance, most middle school students in these districts have younger brothers and sisters and are required to make sure their siblings are awake, dressed, fed, prepared with homework, and walked safely to school.� A lot cannot attend after school programs because they must pick up these same brothers and sisters and bring them home, cook dinner, and take care of the household chores.� Some of these children do the grocery shopping, pay the bills, walk to the laundermat to wash the family's laundry,� and� run basic errands for their parents because the parents get home too late.� Most of these families are one check away from homelessness, even though some work two and three jobs, and it is required that all members of the family chip in for survival.� These kids worry about money, the bills, the rising cost of heating their apartment, or that they'll be tossed out because the landlord cannot pay the mortgage, the loss of their parent's jobs, new shoes and coats, the safety of their younger siblings,� everything that an adult would worry about.
We can blame the parents for not being there, not getting their own proper education, having too many kids, marrying too young, the list goes on and on.� Trust me, these parents know they made mistakes and their kids are paying for them.� We can blame the government, society, and businesses for all contributing to this shameful problem.� These kids know where they stand in this loop. A label on their school will not demoralize them, life has done a great job of doing that for them a long time ago.