pedagogy of the perplexed

The Cycle of Inequity

Why do all discussions related to education and social justice always end up like this? I know it may be starting to sound like a broken record to you and I both, but still a point that needs to be hammered home on the regular: all that money talk, all that lamenting about under-resourced, minority neighbourhood schools, all that madness.

This article discusses the $2,500 salary gap for teachers working in minority-schools compared to their counterparts in more affluent (read: white) neighbourhoods and affiliated schools. May not sound like much, but it’s the tip of a deadly iceberg in terms of consequences and repercussions.

Let’s look at the root of the problem: teachers in less-affluent neighbourhoods get paid less, are treated worse, don’t have enough resources, and have to put in a Herculean effort to even dream of closing the achievement gap. Subsequently, they burn out, they naturally yearn for those bonuses and higher salary doled out at better-performing schools, and eventually make the move to a more stress-free existence. The achievement gap then widens as schools with a higher minority population have constant turn-over of first and second year teachers looking to move on after having ‘paid their dues’.

How do we tackle this problem? The article argues, quite logically, that

To make things truly equitable for kids, districts should require that each school, whether it’s in a minority or a white neighborhood, have about the same number of first or second-year teachers and veteran educators. That would also make the average salary of each school’s pool of teachers the same. Or, we could always ditch the salary schedules and give more money to teachers working their butts off to close the achievement gap, no matter how many years they have on the job.

So throwing that ‘broken record’ caution to wind - it unfortunately boils down to talk of money. Yet again.

Teachers deserve it, those kids desperately need it, and the world will thus become a more fair and equitable place.

Posted by Nima