Personal experiences from inner-city and urban teachers are the best way to see the current realities that face our public education system. I came across an article online that contains the words to a speech entitled, “A Crisis in Inner City Education”, which Frank Marrero, an inner-city teacher in California, gave to legislators in California in 2006.  Marrero talks about his personal experiences in working at an elementary school in Richmond, California which was considered to be the “murder capital of California” at the time. He discusses situations about shootings and death that surround the children at his elementary school. Marrero states how the school’s construction differs from other “normal” schools. He talks about how he personally brought pencils and towel paper to every student because the students lacked them or the school did not provide them. Poverty affects the funding his school receives. Even though the students in the school get a meal before school and lunch for free, he talks of this free food as “prison” quality food. He brings to light the effects standardized testing on poverty stricken, inner city schools. The biggest difference he talks about is the difference he sees in his children’s school and the inner city school he works at.  “I see these two worlds 30 minutes apart nearly every day, and I can’t believe the gulf of disparity is so wide (Marrero).” His children go to an all white school in the suburbs where he teaches at a school in the inner city that consists of mostly African Americans and Latino students. Marrero talks about the education case of Serrano vs. Priest that happened in 1971 near Los Angeles where a school district sued another over funding issues. He touches on California’s Proposition 13 and the effects on education. He talks about some obstacles that inner city schools face in receiving funding. Marrero suggests reforms like the following: a funded pre-school for early learning, ample tutors, and provide incentives for great teachers to teach at the school. He made this speech to bring to light what he sees on a daily basis to legislators trying to bring reform and action in the state of their education. I know that this article is based on a personal situation in California, but the circumstances are very relatable to other inner city struggles found throughout the nation.  

Here’s the link to read the text of the speech online:


Choosing to teach in the inner city or in the poorest parts of the country is viewed as admirable in some circles and crazy in others.  There are programs like TEACH that encourage people to teach in the most challenging communities in the country by giving college students grants in return for them teaching in struggling areas. There are also people who choose to teach in the most challenging areas of the country because they recognize that the need is great and they have a desire to address that need.

No matter what brings you to the doors of an inner city school or any other struggling area of the country, the unique challenges that will greet you each day will sometimes test your personal commitment and even your sanity. In an effort to preserve your sanity, I ask that you care for yourself today so that you can continue to care for the leaders of tomorrow.  If you do not care for yourself first, you will not be around to nurture and educate the leaders of tomorrow.

And a good teacher is too valuable to waste.

Jonathan Kozol is an author who writes about his personal experiences within the American Public  school system. His newest book “The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America” is a must read. This book brings to light the racial inequalities that still exist within our public school system.  He discusses how schools are still segregated by race as well as social class. The difference between the education that middle to upper class students receive in a suburban school and the education that inner-city and low social economic students recieve is huge. This book is based completely on his first hand experiences within over 60 schools in various states. Kozol provides a lot of comparisons between inner-city education and suburban education. He touches upon military recruitment in schools, No Child Left Behind, and racial integration. Inner-city and urban area teachers can relate to Kozol’s  “The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America”, since they see what he talks about in real life on a daily basis.

Here is the link for his book review from Education Review- a journal of book reviews: