Tina Giambattista - Blog Week 4

Educational Equity Blog - Underserved Populations

Union City New Jersey is said to have over 60% unemployment rate and is classified as bing one of the poorest cities in the country. Yet, somehow this urban school district’s achievements scores have made a significant impact despite intervention from charter schools or governmental take over.

Three quarters of the schools population live in homes where Spanish is the primary language. Union City was once a failing urban school where state seized control and failure was the norm. In 2011, however, there was a significant change which has brought Union City to rise to the level of mediocracy regarding achievement scores. How was it acheived you ask? Teacher teamwork and collaboration was the main ingredient in this recipe for success. The committment from the teachers to the students they serve is unwavering. Many of the teachers are local and live within a half hour of school which means they bring experience and familiarity of the culture to the classroom. Others however, just have a strong sense of commitment and eagerness to improve the lives of their students. Good teachers can’t be shoehorned into a single mold. They are five distinct personalities, five teaching styles—and five capable professionals. There is no magic pill, no Teach For America intervention. In the hallways of Union City schools, you will see teachers in and out of one another’s rooms, exchanging ideas and materials and helping out, covering if one of them arrives late or has to leave for a meeting. Everything that is created by them is also shared among everyone. Nothing is coveted and all sources are open. There is no competition, no ego or selfishness. Classrooms function as communites and go beyond writing and mathematics. The teachers foster respect, responsibility and goodness. Being a person of good moral character and judgement is just as important as the curriculum that is taught.

Since the year 2011, Union City has graduated an impressive 90 percent of students. This is roughly 10 percent higher than the national average. In additon, more than 75 percent of Union City graduates enroll in college each year.

Valerie Strauss April 4, 2013. The Washington Post. An urban school district that works — without miracles or Teach For America