A Teacher in Newark Writes: “Chaos by Design” Is Not Good for Students or Teachers

Ryan Heisinger is teaching in Newark. He is in his fourth year. He loves teaching. He wants to spend his career as a teacher. But he and everyone else in Newark has been subjected to constant disruption, on purpose.

For me, this year is mainly speeding by because of how much I’ve enjoyed it. This school year has reinvigorated me, further convinced me that I want to spend my career around kids. But after four years of teaching at three different schools with four different principals, I’d love to find a school at which I could settle in and make a long-term difference. The education landscape in my city, however, has left me worried that no such opportunity exists.

I’ve noticed a similar concern among many of my friends who became teachers around the same time I did. Indeed, my friends and I—and we’re not alone—feel that to stay in urban education and make a meaningful impact, we must make a major sacrifice: leave behind the kids who need the most support or forfeit our job stability.

These concerns are relatively new, the products of an alarming trend in urban education through which public school systems have become increasingly unstable as charter schools continue to take up a greater share of students in cities…

Lasting relationships with teachers and peers aren’t forged over just a few months. An amazing arts program takes years to build. It takes a long time to develop a wide variety of student-led extracurricular opportunities. School pride comes when students feel they are a part of a community in which they’re able to express themselves and show off their talents. But in a marketplace in which schools compete for test scores, narrowed priorities and school closures erode the stable soil teachers and administrators need to put roots down and grow an enduring culture of success and school community and pride.

I began my teaching career in a public high school just down the road from my current school, and while I remember it fondly and miss it in many ways, I have no illusions about the education my kids were receiving there. It was a mess. But the higher-performing charter I taught at last year had no art, no music, and no physical education, yet somehow the network was lauded as a model for urban schools. Indeed, in the marketplace, this is the model.

So while reformers tout my city as a school choice success story, I know the improved reading and math scores they cite as proof have come at a tremendous expense. The very system that produced those higher test scores is also denying my students and others like them across the city vital experiences and opportunities.

There must be a better way.

from sarah http://ift.tt/2pgJign

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