Teacher Shortages Are Looming, but It Doesn't Need to Be This Way
Teacher Libby Garland vividly recalls the excitement she felt when she was accepted into the New York City Teaching Fellows Program in 2005. The program's mission, "preparing a group of exceptional teachers committed to a better future for the NYC students who need them most," seemed like a perfect fit, and she was pleased to get a position in the School for Democracy and Leadership in Brooklyn.
The school was then in its second year, and Garland was assigned to teach social studies to tenth graders.
"It was a very idealistic project staffed by a bunch of bright, committed people who saw social justice as central to education," Garland told Truthout. "Everyone, including the principal, really cared about the kids." Despite this, Garland said, problems were immediately evident. For example, it took until late October for the Department of Education to provide Garland with textbooks. "Every night at 9:00 p.m. I'd find myself in Office Max making copies of readings and assignments, paying for them myself," she said. "Everyone in there at that hour was also a teacher."
Eighteen-hour workdays were common. "It was a really brutal lesson," Garland said. "Having smart, dedicated and hard-working teachers is not enough. The school was chaotic. Things rolled along without systems in place -- even something as basic as taking attendance fell through the cracks -- and many of the students simply got caught in the chaos."
By the end of her first year, Garland decided she'd had enough. "The despair I felt, Teacher Shortages Are Looming, but It Doesn't Need to Be This Way: