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Not a teacher? Not a problem. It takes a village. And you're in the village.


As an eduholic, I obsess over education and I'm angry about the achievement gap. And when I'm obsessed over something I'm angry about (imagine ex-boyfriends, people who don't use their turn signals, and the achievement gap) I tend to become more emotional and less logical. (Imagine vengeful emails, excessive honking, and getting angry at anyone who isn't a teacher .)

There was a time (and sometimes there still is) when I feel holier than thou and act as if anyone who doesn't dedicate their life and paycheck to closing the education gap only makes it wider. It's easy to feel all alone in this big, wide capitalistic reality. There have been times when I felt a tinge of martyrdom for my decision to work in education when my friends have chosen more lucrative careers as i-bankers, lawyers and doctors. Can you believe it? Doctors save lives and I dare feel like a martyr?!

As an obsessive and angry person when it comes to the achievement gap, I've learned to check my biases frequently so I don't say stupid things like above. But more importantly, I've learned to check my biases about people not in the business of education because getting them in on this mission is the only way the achievement gap can close on such a broad scale. I know that great classroom teaching is the cornerstone to closing the gap, but I also know that every single person in the village has a responsibility and the tools to close the gap, whether they're a teacher, a nurse or an i-banker. The bad news is that a whole lot of people still don't believe that it's their problem or that all children can learn or that they as non-traditional educators can do anything to help. The good news is that I am confident we all know people out there who are already doing it.

Need proof or just a pick-me-up to counteract your obsessiveness and anger over the state of society? Poets, editors and playwrights in New York City are closing the gap outside of schools by doubling as mentors to girls from disadvantaged backgrounds to help develop them as writers and leaders.

In the after-school scene at a Florida high school where "just graduate" is more heavily emphasized than "go to college," a group of students are changing their futures by designing a prep course and teaching each other. The founder of this after-school group? Sixteen-year-old junior William Scott who didn't allow his age and lack of teacher training keep him from having a hand in closing the achievement gap.

And let's not forget about the people who are closing the gap by getting kids to school safely to even start learning. After 32 school-age children in Chicago were killed last year in their own neighborhoods, Deverra Beverly, a community activist, pulled together parents and community leaders to form an escort service to help protect kids crossing gang territory as they went to and from school. Ms. Beverly and the others are most likely not teachers in the traditional sense, but they're making sure we're not alone in closing the achievement gap.


Thanks for giving us non-teachers some props. I get equally angry about the achievement gap and people who don't use their turn signals, and I truly believe that there needs to be a stronger acknowledgement among the private sector that more of the village is needed to ensure the success of all of our kids. I volunteer in urban schools and after-school programs once or more per week, and when my co-workers find out it frustrates me to no end that they usually look at me like I'm crazy rather than ask how they can get involved as well. Especially because we're engineers, and I've seen how much difference it makes to urban kids just talking to someone who actually uses and enjoys math and science.

To their credit though, many of my co-workers have not been exposed to the achievement gap in all its glory. I only learned about it a few years ago while I was being recruited for TFA (I didn't apply, but the recruitment process alone taught me a lot). We work downtown but live in the suburbs, so it's very difficult for many of them to see that right down the street from where we work there are kids who more than likely won't graduate this spring, much less have the drive to go to college or become engineers. I hope that more people, and their companies, start to realize the importance and potential impact they could have in a K-12 classroom. There needs to be less of an attitude of "I'm too busy to think about it," and much more sense that even a small amount of time can make a world of difference.

My pleasure spreading the word and the props! I completely agree with you. It takes a LOT from traditional educators to close the achievement gap in this country, but it also takes, uh, EVERYONE ELSE to make it actually happen. I am so inspired by your work with students even if it's not necessarily in the traditional or full-time sense. Please don't ever forget that the work you do with kids has an impact none of us can begin to fathom. Also know that the message you're spreading across all the fields and occupations out there is that the education gap is something we all can and need to tackle-- in the classroom or not. Thanks for all you do!

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  • Jessica: Sci-Che, My pleasure spreading the word and the props! I read more
  • sci-che: Thanks for giving us non-teachers some props. I get equally read more




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