Jim Young/Reuters Photo from 2012
Knowing my interest in inner city schools, a buddy of mine forwarded an interview appearing in the recent issue of The Atlantic. The feature is an interview with a disgruntled NYC public school teacher entitled " It Feels Like Educational Malpractice." The interview is nice, but not exactly ground-breaking for anyone who has taught in a big city school.
It was a very poor neighborhood with a lot of English-language learners who knew little or no English. With poverty comes this condition called Toxic Stress. It explains why the children were so difficult to handle, needy, and so behind in learning. When your dad is in prison or your mom is on drugs, or your mom drank alcohol when you were a fetus, if you didn’t sleep the night before because you were allowed to play video games all night, or maybe there was a shooting, your cognitive ability is harmed. It rewires their brain so they’re unable to employ working memory, which is what you use when you’re learning. We’re charged with being the parents of these kids, being the friends, the mentors. Teachers are given all these social responsibility towards children that aren’t ours. It’s a failure of the system to address the poverty that creates the achievement gap.
Tell me about it. Public schools can not do much about it. Catholic schools can and do. I work at Leo High School in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood of Chicago. Not NYC. What is interesting and kept my eyes darting up the page from the prose to the photo was . . .Jesus! That ain't a big Apple Public School! That's Leo High School . . .right here on the south side!
About a year ago Reuters ( link up and enjoy the photos # 6 is the one The Atlantic features) did a very nice story written by Chicago veteran news person Mary Wizniewki. She was accompanied by a photographer and arrived at dawn of the Leo day for several days and soaked up how Catholic schools do what public schools can not and may not do. We have a crucifix in every room of the schools, stained glass windows in the cafeteria offering a litany to Our Lady, and Catholic value based instruction. Most students are not Roman Catholic. All have been accepted at solid colleges and universities.
The thing that struck me most was the photo (above and linked) - that is Leo HS at about 7AM. I am here between 4:30 and 5:00 AM daily. Some guys arrive before I go out at 6:20 AM to pick up students in Bronzeville and Canaryville. I open the doors, because Leo offers the most positive and safe hours of the day for our guys.
It is interesting that The Atlantic chose a photo of an inner city classroom and hall of a school built by Chicago Catholic parishioners in 1921 and opened in 1926 and still operating to help young men succeed on faith based path.
Funny no NYC public schools were featured.
The photographer must be the gent identified in The Atlantic piece.