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  • Jillian Lenae

What's Going On? The Top 5 Issues in Urban Education: My Perspective and My Experience

1) Schools of Ed are not preparing those who graduate from their programs. They don't require student teaching experience to match where they desire to be placed. For example, I shouldn't be able to teach on the South Side of Chicago if I did my student teaching in Naperville. Context matters and often times requires a different skill set.

2) Burnout. Teaching in urban communities requires a strong sense of self-confidence and self-awareness. There has to be a way to assess these qualities in the interview process. Along with that, mental health services need to be made easily accessible (at no cost) for educators to avoid burnout. It actually needs to be encouraged - and perhaps even required at least monthly.

3) The curriculum needs to be tailored to meet the needs of the kids who are being expected to learn it. African American History needs to be taught starting in kindergarten. This will empower them to take ownership and will help put the importance of educational opportunities into perspective.

4) We point fingers instead of coming together to ensure each student gets what they need. It's not the parents' fault. It's not the schools' fault. It's all of our fault (even those who are not educators) when our babies fail without purpose or meaning. It take a village and we've gotten too far away from that idea.

5) The current structure of the educational system does not meet the needs of the average urban student. We must rethink the way we "do" school - with students at the table to provide input. I wouldn't continue to be invested or engaged in something that doesn't meet my needs. Students passively sit in classrooms being talked at rather than being allowed to be active participants. The moment students realize they can choose not to go anymore, they drop out.

Note: None of these items are about the students. They show up ready to learn daily. Only in America can a kid show up to school for 12 years and graduate with 6 years of education. We, the adults, are failing them.

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