Achievement Gap

I’ve Done More to Help Students and Parents Than I Ever Did During My 15 Years in the Classroom

The day that I ended my career as a teacher, I woke up as a parent. I had taught for 15 years and I'd reached a career high, but still, I quit. The money was good, but it was no longer worth being a part of the disheartening school conditions. I was in a Detroit school district that paid great money, but the quality of education was extremely poor. The higher-ups were making six figures, but the copying machine didn’t work most times. In my classroom, the only technology available was my work laptop and a projector that a coworker purchased herself. I felt hopeless. My middle school math students performed at a third-grade level but with such limited resources getting them on grade level was impossible. Parents came to the building all the time, but they didn’t seem to see the miseducation of their children.

I Was In the Same Boat

When I stopped teaching, I realized that, as a parent, I was just as oblivious to what was happening with my children’s education. To my dismay, my youngest son was not reading on grade level nor did he have the solid educational foundation I thought he had. Like his classmates, he struggled with phonics, reading and math. They had more resources than the schools where I taught, so I absent-mindedly assumed my child was above grade level. I was wrong. As a teacher and a parent, I am fed up with the quality of our schools. I am fed up of seeing parents, students and teachers have no say in the policies that impact our schools. I am fed up with the lack of improvement. I decided that my goal was to begin organizing in my community and to work to improve our students and my child’s education system. That’s why I became an organizer with Brilliant Detroit, a group that supports families with children ages 0 through 8. Their vision is simple but not easy: All students should be kindergarten-ready and successful in school. Brilliant is a member of a group called 482Forward, an organization for Detroit parents and students to have a say in what happens to our schools. For our schools to improve, parents, students and teachers—those most impacted by the problem—will have to lead the way. That’s why I won’t stop fighting for our kids in Detroit and across Michigan.
Crystal Humphries is the Community Engagement Manager with Brilliant Detroit, a nonprofit where she coordinates with Detroit communities to help set goals and actions for early childhood learning so that all kids are kindergarten-ready. She is no stranger to working with inner-city youth and families. Having spent 14 years as an educator in Detroit and Las Vegas, she has been acknowledged for ...

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