#367: An American Education
Join me Nov. 20 to discuss this outstanding article on the state of our schools
I have a love-hate relationship with education articles.
On the one hand, I love them. I’m an educator, after all. This is my 26th year in education. I like my new school in Oakland and its students and my colleagues. I appreciate reading articles on education because they hone my practice, challenge my perspective, and remind me why I’ve chosen my life’s work.
But education articles also get on my nerves. Sorry for being snooty, but they’re not always particularly well written. Even when they are, they often say the same thing: our kids can’t read, the pandemic scarred our children (duh), and teachers are quiet quitting and leaving the profession.
Given this complicated relationship, you may have noticed, especially if you’ve subscribed to the newsletter for a while, that I have featured fewer education-related articles lately than in previous years. But when I find an outstanding one, you can be sure I’m going to get it in front of you and encourage you all to read it.
That’s the case with this month’s Article Club selection, “An American Education.” Published in the Washington Post a few weeks ago, recommended by VIP Steven, and written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eli Saslow, the article explores how a rural school district in Arizona searches to find teachers to fill its classrooms. The answer is not to raise its $38,500 starting salary or to improve working conditions. The answer is to attract and outsource top-notch teachers from the Philippines.
If you’re an educator, you might be thinking, “I already know about this.” But you don’t know about it in the way Mr. Saslow shows us in his striking piece. He follows Filipina teacher Rose Jean Obreque all the way from landing in the Las Vegas Airport to arriving at her school in Bullhead City to standing in front of her eighth grade students, trying to teach them English.
Being in the classroom — this is the heart of the article. This is where Mr. Saslow’s writing shines: Here’s a snapshot of what he observes:
A boy was chewing on the collar of his shirt. A girl was taping pencils to each of her fingers and then pawing at the boy next to her. Two boys were playing a version of bumper cars with their desks. A girl was pouring water from a cup into another girl’s mouth, and that girl was spitting the water onto the student next to her. “Ugh, miss teacher lady? Can I go wash off this spit water?” the student asked. A boy was standing up and intentionally tripping over his friend’s legs. A girl was starting a game of hangman on the whiteboard. A boy was walking up to the front of the classroom, holding out a piece of paper rolled into the shape of a microphone, and pretending to interview Obreque. “So, what do you think of life at Fox Creek?”
This month, I warmly invite you to read, annotate, and discuss “An American Education” as part of Article Club.
If you’re interested, this how things will go:
This week, we’ll read the article
Next week, we’ll annotate the article as a group
The following week, we’ll listen to our interview with Mr. Saslow
On Sunday, Nov. 20, 2:00 - 3:30 pm PT, we’ll discuss the article
If this will be your first time participating in Article Club, I’m 100% sure you’ll find that you’ll feel welcome. We’re a kind, thoughtful reading community. Feel free to reach out with all of your questions.
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