The Other Dropout Problem in Urban Schools

Across America, many urban school districts are on life support, and in some places, the plug is ready to be pulled.  This dire reality is routinely discussed, but missing from the conversation is the ever-growing dropout rate in urban schools.  No, not the student dropout rate, but that of teachers.  The teachers' dropout rate is a result of burnout after their ambition is crushed by a climate of cultural adversity.  In other words, their 'save the kids' optimism dissolved into a 'run from the kids' reality.  These teachers anticipated teaching life-changing lessons to the kids but ended up learning life-changing lessons from the kids.

According to the National Commission to Teach America's Future (NCTAF),

NCTAF's findings are a clear indication that America's teacher dropout problem is spiraling out of control.  Teacher attrition has grown by 50 percent over the past fifteen years.  The national teacher turnover rate has risen to 16.8 percent.  In Urban schools it is over 20 percent, and, in some districts, the teacher dropout rate is actually higher than the student dropout rate.

 With the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, teachers' pay and job security are tied to the results of their students' standardized reading/math test scores.  Subsequently, teachers at low performing schools are unrealistically expected to squeeze orange juice from apples, which has led to unprecedented levels of cheating by those teachers who didn't jump ship.

Within St. Louis, Missouri's school district, the teacher dropout rate has created more teacher vacancies than applicants.  In fact, St. Louis' public schools have seen more than fifty teachers quit in the past 10 weeks, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, with half of those resignations coming after the first school day.  Kindergarten teacher, Laura Sahaida, lasted longer than a day, but less than a week.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported,

Laura Sahaida knew teaching kindergarten at a low-performing elementary school in the city would be a tough job - but not like this.  Just six days after she started at Ashland Elementary this school year, she decided to resign.  She was leaving each day feeling defeated.  She had no teacher's aide.  She couldn't control her classroom of 21 kindergartners, most of whom had not attended preschool."  Sahaida explained, "I had lessons planned for teaching them the routines and procedures.  But I couldn't get the class to sit still for five minutes."  

Wow, a certified teacher's exodus was triggered after working just six days with urban kindergarteners.  I wonder how long it would've taken the school's first graders to send her packing.  My guess is six hours instead of six days.

Stereotypically, kids are innocent, energetic, children with missing teeth, and according to Bill Cosby, say the "darndest things."  Yet, inner-city teachers are seeking asylum from these urbanized kids and also becoming conscientious objectors to the public school agenda.

Even when teachers endure the spirit-breaking elements found in many urban schools, their departure is sometimes unforeseen and even involuntary.  

For instance, in Paterson, NJ, a first-grade teacher became the focus of a witch hunt for using a social network as a coping mechanism.  While decompressing, she vented on her Facebook page, "I'm not a teacher -- I'm a warden for future criminals!"  Despite her forewarning being statistically credible, the blatant disrespect to the PC gods resulted in her termination.  Political correctness is another untaught skill that must be mastered by teachers who want to survive inner-city schools.

In addition to being proficient in political correctness, urban teachers must wear other hats while performing their thankless job.  Along with teaching, they have to juggle the tasks of parenting, disciplining, counseling, and become familiar with behavior modification/de-escalation techniques.  Furthermore, teachers have to remain conscious about their individual safety, which is not limited to student-on-teacher violence.  Oftentimes, parents physically and verbally assault teachers.

The lopsided amount of discipline action against Black students has now become a nationally politicized issue.  The Washington Post reported,

Across the Washington area, black students are suspended and expelled two to five times as often as white students, creating disparities in discipline that experts say reflect a growing national problem.

Coincidentally, these numbers are comparable to the incarceration rates between Blacks and Whites, but I digress.  The Obama administration created the African-American Education Initiative, which illogically wants public schools to reduce disciplinary actions against Black students.  Overall, disciplining Black students is really a slippery slope, especially if the teacher is White. Whenever a White teacher disciplines a black student, the unspoken burden of proof is on the White teacher to prove that he/she isn't racist.

Enter Dennis, a math teacher at an inner-city Philadelphia school. The controversial Being White in Philly article explained,

Dennis, 26, teaches math in a Kensington school.  His first year there, fresh out of college, one of his students, an unruly eighth grader, got into a fight with a girl.  Dennis told him to stop, he got into Dennis's face, and in the heat of the moment Dennis called the student, an African-American, "boy."  The student went home and told his stepfather.  The stepfather demanded a meeting with the principal and Dennis, and accused Dennis of being racist; the principal defended his teacher.  Dennis apologized, knowing how loaded the term "boy" was and regretting that he'd used it, though he was thinking, Why would I be teaching in an inner-city school if I'm a racist?  The stepfather calmed down, and that would have been the end of it, except for one thing: The student's behavior got worse.  Because now he knew that no one at the school could do anything, no matter how badly he behaved.

Here's another untaught lesson that must be understood in urban schools, the race card is always available.  If the race card isn't used, then the pervasive parental disconnect will have teachers demonized for "Ray-Ray's" issues.  

Chicago's Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, proposed stimulating parental involvement by bribery; or as he termed it in Liberal language, "incentivizing responsible parenting."  Hand-outs instead of hand-ups are the most reliable play in the Democrats' playbook, and this particular hand-out was twenty-five dollar gift cards to baby mamas who picked up report cards and attended parent-teacher conferences.

Meanwhile, "Violent crimes are daily occurrence in many Chicago Public Schools," says the Chicago Tribune.  Moreover, "Police log dozens of calls a week from CPS schools, investigating complaints of battery, drug use, armed robberies, sexual assault, bomb threats and arson."  

Regardless, the apologists want the teachers to persevere and blame the delinquent behavior on poverty and single parent homes.  Early in life, my poor and single mother instilled that being poor was no excuse for poor behavior.  

Here is a primary reason for the offending behavior.

These students embrace the anti-social mentality that's prevalent in the "hood."  The hood is a place where dysfunction litters the landscape and criminality is allowed to flourish because of the no-snitch code.  It's a place where Ebonics is the official language and low cultural standards are maintained through the "keepin' it real" mantra.  It's a place where State Pen is preferred over Penn State.  It's a place where a Dr. Kermit Gosnell is embraced over a Dr. Ben Carson.  It's a place where grievance gurus such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are household names while race-realists such as Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams remain anonymous. 

In summary, it's a place ripe for continued Democrat exploitation and the results manifest in urban schools.

The combination of continued criminal behavior, academic apathy, lack of parental involvement/support, safety, and political correctness, leads to the conclusion that inner-city teachers deserve combat pay. After all, most are probably suffering from undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder already.

Taleeb Starkes is the author of a controversial book that confronts the subculture within the BLACK community titled, "THE UN-CIVIL WAR: BLACKS vs NI**ERS." Find Taleeb on Twitter

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