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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 14 2012

Two Years Later, Still Fighting to Close the Achievement Gap

Wow.  Has it really been two years since I last wrote on this blog? In some ways, it feels like it’s been so much longer, while in other ways, it feels like the time has truly flown.  I started this blog  a week after acceptance into Teach for America, and now I’m a TFA alum.  These two years have probably been the hardest of my life, and I was, to be honest, not a very good teacher.  I am now moving on, having recently accepted a job as a Tech Coordinator at the new Relay Graduate School of Education, but this does not mean that I’m giving up on the achievement gap.  I’ll just be working at it from a different angle, in helping support a grad school that I think is going to be doing wonderful things for teacher training.

And in the long run? I want to be a librarian.  In January, I started my Masters of Library and Information Science program online through San Jose State University. Though doing grad school alongside teaching was difficult, I’m glad I’m in the program.  My new job is not directly related to library science, but I think the tech skills and networking I’ll be able to do will definitely help me in the future.  And I’m excited to be moving to NYC!

Given my career goals, one of the first things I researched for my move was the city’s public libraries. It turns out that there are three library systems in NYC: the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library, and the Queens Library. All are available to anyone who lives or works in the state of New York…and unfortunately, all of them face drastic budget cuts.  I am optimistic that the cuts won’t be nearly so bad when the final budget comes out, but the thing is, public libraries shouldn’t be facing any cuts at all.  In tough economic times, they are needed more than ever as providers of information and as community meeting spaces for everyone, even the most disadvantaged.

The Queens Library has a video on their careers page that shows pretty well why my ideal career would be to work as a librarian in an urban public library.  My two years teaching showed me that good teachers in urban public schools can definitely make a difference, and indeed, are vital components of closing the achievement gap.  But my time teaching has also shown me first-hand that good schools and good teachers are not enough to ensure equality of opportunity.  As a public librarian, I’d be able to help educate not just students, but their entire families.  I could still help students with their school curriculum through implementing literacy programs and homework help tutoring, but could also help others by providing computer classes and English language classes and job hunting seminars.

Though some cities recognize the importance of public libraries, enough don’t that I’m trying to keep my options open, in case I’m not able to get a job at a public library.  But my advocacy of public libraries is not just so that I can get a job.  I’m lucky.  I happened to be born to a family where college education was a given.  I have one degree, and soon it will be two, and though I may have difficulty finding a job at times and may have to watch my spending, I highly doubt I will ever have to wonder where my next meal is coming from.  There are so many people for whom this is just not true, and it is for them that I advocate for libraries.   It is for them, and for the recent immigrants to our country, and for everyone else who faces far more disadvantages than I likely ever will.  Education and information and technology are equalizers when everyone has the same access to all of them, and libraries are one of the things that help provide everyone with that access.

So whether you live in NYC, or elsewhere, help close the achievement gap; be an advocate for your local public library!

Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library.  The only entrance requirement is interest.  ~Lady Bird Johnson

There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.  ~Andrew Carnegie

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.  ~Quoted in The Whole Earth Catalog, 1980 edition, originally created by Stewart Brand

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