inner-city schools

How I Joined Teach for America and Got Sued for $20 Million tells the story of an idealistic new Yale grad who learned up close and personal just how bad inner-city schools can be, and why. It’s on the long side, but it held my interest because if things go as planned, I’ll have kids eventually. The quality of the school system will be an important factor when deciding where to live. I want to know as much as possible about why things are the way they are in order to have a chance at improving them.


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  1. I only scanned the story but couldn’t help but read the last 1/3. I can’t imagine. Actually, I can. There’s an elementary school just on the outskirts of my neighborhood that has a poor reputation. I have several friends and neighbors who have removed their children from the school and others that wish they could. It’s in proximity to a number of apartment complexes and the majority of the students transient. The classrooms are over crowded and the teachers feel helpless. If and when I have children, private school will be a consideration.

    Comment by jason on March 10, 2003 @ 9:07 am
  2. Wow, not a situation I’d like to be in. I had a friend who went to DC last fall to teach at an inner city school. She’s petite, very pretty, and I wonder what her experience has been like.

    Comment by Cameron on March 10, 2003 @ 9:43 am
  3. Im a graduationg senior at Grambling State University from the department of education and I was wondering what are some of the pro’s and con’s of working in a Rural city school or a inner city school system.

    Comment by cassie on October 13, 2003 @ 12:20 pm
  4. I am a former inner city student, and the reason why the kids are “so bad” is becuase look at their surroundings. You go to a school where the heat only works upstairs, and upstairs is unbearably hot, you live in a house the size of a store at the local mall, their are no teachers that actually teach a lesson worth learning, and if they do, they are very arrogant and look down upon you becuase they think you won’t amount to anything other than a life on the streets. Why do so many teens join gangs and not care about school, well why shouldn’t they? Do you even grasp the concept of how it feels to go to a school so rundown, broke, and hazardous, but yet, if your parents could afford a small apartment just 8 MILES away, then you could go to a great school full of many great teachers, great lessons, and great oppurtunities? Before you sit here and dis the innner city kids for being so bad and try to make yourself look like the victim, become a student in this enviroment.

    Comment by Cindy on February 12, 2004 @ 4:28 pm
  5. Cindy, who here said the kids are bad? Before you blame the schools, look to your parent or parents and the other parents. Kids are around for at least 5 years before they hit the grade schools. Who taught them before that?

    Yes, ghettos are run down and probably suck to live in. That’s why when my mother left her first husband, she moved to a different city and state where she could better afford to at least get us in a lower middle-class neighborhood. Parents who care *enough* will move heaven and earth to find a better life. Feeling hopeless is not an excuse. Yes, there are obstacles. But nothing worth having was ever achieved without pain and sacrifice.

    Comment by Renee on February 13, 2004 @ 12:36 pm
  6. inner city schools are as bad as they are mainly because of poverty. inner city schools are attended by mainly workin class children. first of all living conditions are not the best for studying for school. living in cramped housing, with lack of food, heat, clothing and cleanlyness as well as parents not being able to afford educational stuff like books or computers. try studying for school when your real hungry. also with a surrounding of drugs and violence..even in their own home..this is going to throw the child off course.

    when you look at inner city schools in america you also look at the number of black and latino children present. the school system is simply racist and the people who say that it isnt anymore are ignorant. the lessons in which these kids are held has no relevance to them and with the troubles mentioned above the motivavtion for educational achievement is minimal.

    of course you are going to get the kids with stable family backgrounds like the 1’s mentioned in the article bad the disruptive kids in lessons effect their educational acheivement also. its all 1 big cycle with many factors which eventually effect every kid in an inner city school.

    i would also like to state that i do feel the racism towards the white teacher was disgusting and unnecissary. and i do not condone any rasict behaviour but the frustration of generations of black kids just wasting away into nothing can get too much for some people. walking around the block all day seeing nothing but black faces trapped in a slum when white people are outside of this ‘hell’ does start to have an effect on thinking. scapegoats are easily made from dire situations…as was shown by the white teacher being the target.

    yet your government seems to do nothing!…maybe if the wages of high flying business men and poloticians were lowered just a little and the wages of traditional workin class jobes were raised to a rate where they can live comfortably. THEN urban regenerated and funding of inner city schools will start to work

    but this is a hopeless situation that will never get resolved. why do americans vote for these people?

    Comment by nefe on February 26, 2004 @ 3:26 pm
  7. This message is for Cindy–the former inner city student. You seem to have quite an experience through your schooling in the inner city. I am working on a book of inner city stories and would love to have you participate.

    Please e-mail me at [email protected] if you are interested.

    Oh, anyone else reading this thread…feel free to e-mail if you have inner city stories of triumph, tragedy, overcoming obstacles and stories that give a message of hope.

    The book is under pre-contract stage and I cannot discuss fully but, I would be happy to send guidelines to interested parties.

    [email protected]

    Comment by awriter1 on May 12, 2004 @ 12:18 am
  8. I forwarded your comment to her.

    Comment by dan on May 12, 2004 @ 9:28 am
  9. I recently completed a graduate teachers certification program and am to be starting my first year teaching position in South Bronx, NY. I am aware of the problems of race and economics in the inner city and the effect they have on student outcomes. I am also aware however, of the importance of proper training in behavior management. This is not only imperative to being able to teach properly, but the integral factor in GOOD teaching. I took 2 quarters of management, plus had a quarter of student teaching and a quarter of in school observations.
    Without proper management, learning will not occur, as seen in this article. It is a shame that TFA and other programs don’t prepare teachers for this. Before any teacher goes into the classroom, they should have a minimum of three months practicum, possibly in the spring of the school year prior to starting, to ensure that they learn the skills needed to effectively teach.
    Just to note: This teacher, by giving his students 1’s could not have been properly assessing them at all. There is more to assessment than quiz and test scores. Part of why we have an achievement gap between white suburban children, and inner city minority children is the basic difference in learning and teaching. A suburban school would rarely judge a child merely on his or her outcomes, but on the whole child, their behavior, their effort, their scores, their growth throughout the grading period. When children are judged only on their scores, and the teaching is not being done properly, HOW CAN THEY SCORE ABOVE A 1? It is impossible- the teacher has to be able to teach properly for their scores to improve.
    I only hope my schooling and training will prepare me for the worst, but enable me to teach to the best of my ability.

    Comment by Jessica on August 4, 2004 @ 4:25 am
  10. Renne…yes..i agree that it all starts with the parents..but what about those who aren’t fortunate as you.what about those who grew up watching thier mother abuse drugs and with a father who just isn’t there or in prison..can you blame these kids for being brought into a world of chaos . these kids are exactly the ones who need the most attention and it starts within the school..what else do they have left but school.i think that inner city schools are lacking so many things that can help these kids realize thier potential. afterschool programs, prevention programs, art programs..and so on.when i child is lacking guidance and is turning to gangs and drugs, instead of judging and being scared…we, as a society, need to lend a helping hand..but when that child has already reached the level of joining gangs and abusing drugs, the process of prevention becomes harder becuase not only is the kid accustomed to that lifestyle but they feel that they have nothing else left.i beleive that if you teach them while they’re young that they would more likely be able to travel a different road in life.

    Comment by feven on February 26, 2007 @ 3:37 pm

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