On July 7, I had the privilege of meeting with and discussing education policy with President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and three of the most amazing teachers within our profession: LeShawna Coleman, Justin Minkel and Leslie Ross. One of the questions that the president asked of us was, “What brought you to the teaching profession?” I came to teaching by asking one question early on. It is a question I still continue to ask. That question is, “What if?”
My undergraduate experiences at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania were phenomenal. I was the first one in my family to attend college and thus incredibly committed to success. My academic growth was exponential. I was also terribly under-prepared. What took my peers just a few hours often took me a few days. In the solitude of the library stacks I often asked myself, “What if?” What if I had been exposed to some of the ideas presented to me in college during my K-12 experience? What if I had been taught to write the way I was expected to do now? What if my teachers had engaged my family, community and me in the same way that my professors did at the undergraduate and graduate levels? What if?
In my meetings with President Obama and Secretary Duncan, it was clear to me that they too have asked themselves similar questions as they relate to educational equity: “What if all children had access to highly trained and developed teachers who consistently deliver great instruction?” The president articulated this issue best, “So we have a problem in which the kids who need the most skilled teachers are the least likely to get them. And the most talented and skilled teachers oftentimes are teaching the kids who are already the best prepared and have the most resources outside of the school in order to succeed.” <Read more.>