The Road To Improving Inner City Schools
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The Road to Improving Inner City Schools

I've been in inner city education for over 15 years. I've been a teacher and a counselor. I've worked elementary, middle, and high school. I must say that I've pretty much seen it all. Inner city teaching is very challenging. There are hundreds of articles and research out there regarding how to improve inner city schools. It's kind of hard to tell who really knows what they are talking about.

There are several things required to improve inner city schools. In this article I will discuss three of them. Are they the top three? I don't know. But, I do know that these three are important to the success of inner city schools.

Inner city schools on all grade levels need passionate and committed teachers. Basically they need teachers that give a damn. I really don't care how old the teacher is. The teacher must give a damn about the kids, must get and give respect, and must be committed to making sure the students learn. The problem can sometimes be that you have a committed and passionate teacher that has no structure of discipline. Yes, this can be a problem. With no structure or classroom management, the teacher or the students won't be successful.

When a school has a problem like this, administration must step up and support this teacher not leaving him or her out on failure island. True enough it's going to take some time to help this teacher, but if the teacher is really passionate, with real support from administration (instructional coaches, peer teachers, lead teachers, workshops, etc), the teacher will get better.

Inner city schools have to be on the same page from elementary to high school. Many school systems are doing this all over the country but many inner city school systems are still discussing it and playing like their doing it. The feeder schools must meet regularly according to subject area. By the time kids get to high school, the high school staff should be very familiar with the students they are receiving. The same for the middle schools. The administrators literally need to work together to help each other. So often is the case that school administrators are on their own island trying to only improve their school but they must keep in mind that most of their kids are feeding in from another principal's school.

So many inner city students are entering high school 3 and 4 grade levels behind in reading and math. It's time for the schools' staff to work together to figure out how to decrease these high numbers of academically deficient students.

Lastly, I must say that after the school boards have gone through all of the motions to higher administrators, release them and let them do their job. That does not mean that upper level school officials should not be visiting schools regularly because they should! But, once hired, let the principals do what they feel they need to do to get their schools on the right track. So many administrators hands are tied and you also have administrators who hands should be tied and they should be led out of the building. There is no reason why school board members and school officials should not know when a school has an ineffective principal. Yet, ineffective principals continue to make six figures and do nothing to improve their school. But, they are very good at making you think they are doing something. For every year a school has an ineffective principal, a year of more of education is lost to a school full of students.

Like I said earlier, these are just a few things that need to be addressed when you're talking inner city school improvement. It's an enormous task and it has to be done. The bottom line is that you must have the right people in place to get it done. If not, you're just playing school.


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