To the Editor:
The dichotomy of points of view and experiences in the article “Yalies flock to Teach for America” (3/28) was unfair in its misrepresentation of my experiences in the program so far. For one thing, to compare me, a first year inner-city elementary school teacher, to a Teach for America alum who taught high school in a rural area three years ago, is unsound. This article, written from a “he said/she said” perspective, was stinted in its portrayal of the vast experiences garnered at Teach for America.
Unfortunately, there were no other perspectives represented in this article, other than the artificial and constructed “dialogue” between Michael Johnston and me.
The issues surrounding Teach for America are neither easily defined nor palatable once they have been set forth. Anyone who sees these issues in black and white or portrays them that way is trying to take a simplistic approach to a complex socio-economic problem.
I would like to state for the record that my “light” has not been extinguished. Teaching has put everything else in my life into perspective. I am responsible for not only the education but also the safety and social development of 23 children. The stress of my senior essay was nothing compared to this. I am getting paid to educate all of my students, not just the two or three who have the motivation and skills to learn. I do not think that it is unreasonable that I would be frustrated by the systems in place that prevent my students from succeeding not only in school, but in life. I do not think that frustration necessitates a lack of hope.
The reasons why people choose to join Teach For America, the experiences they have while teaching, and their memories afterward are so varied and fluctuating, even among a person’s own world of experiences, that it would be erroneous to bipolarize individual situations. The truth of the matter is that for every teacher the challenges of teaching coexist with rewards that are as varied as the children who make up their class.
Jacqueline Ruppert ’01
March 31, 2002