Much of my teaching is in a K-8 certification program, and as our students are becoming immersed now in their school placements, the almost ritualistic eye rolling about their students’ parents many failings begins.
We work hard to deconstruct this. I insist that they be straightforward about why they’re talking about “parents” when they’re actually critiquing mothers.
I ask them to be honest about how many of the mothers that are falling short in their eyes they’ve actually met, and there’s a moment of uncomfortable silence when they realize that they actually have never personally met those about whom the school rolls its collective eyes.
And this year, I’m going to have them read this piece on the shifting working conditions of low-income women who, at the insistence of their employers, are working unpredictable and ever-shifting hours.
As with most teacher education programs, many of our students are young women just out of college or returning women who may have left the workplace some years ago to raise their children and become active in schools.
These too-often- invisible shifts in working conditions and the vulnerability of low-income workers is shaping the ability of parents to support their kids’ education.
These things have to be part of teacher education.