In case you missed it yesterday, be sure to check out this fabulous essay by Wake County school teacher Katherine Meeks that was featured on the main NC Policy Watch site. In it, Meeks, who has taught in a high poverty school in Charlotte and a lower poverty school in Raleigh, explains why socioeconomic integration is absolutely essential if we want to save our public schools. Here’s an excerpt:
“This is the story of my experiences teaching at two vastly different schools and the systemic problems of socioeconomic inequalities I witnessed:
- CMS: 90% free and reduced lunch; extremely low performing; rated “F”
- WCPSS: 20% free and reduced lunch; high performing; rated “A”
At the first school, we were flooded with monetary resources, technology, and additional school personnel.
To serve 900 students, we had five administrators, a school resource officer, two security associates, two behavior management technicians, two in-school suspension teachers, two “Communities In Schools” staff, three instructional facilitators, a full-time beginning teacher coordinator, a CTE coordinator, two counselors, and a social worker. We had a technology device for every single student. Class sizes were lower than average.
Despite these supports, I worked 12 hours a day to complete the most basic parts of my job and working conditions were far below what I would consider professional. I witnessed an unfathomable amount of violence and on more than one occasion felt personally unsafe. There was a culture of fear for everyone involved: fear of theft, fear of violence, and fear of multiple kinds of abuse. When teachers were absent, students were most often covered by stretching current staff because substitutes did not want to work in the unpredictable and sometimes hostile environment. Read more