“There is, thank God, no teacher meter, and there never is going to be one. A teacher’s major contribution may pop out anonymously in the life of some ex-student’s grandchild.”---Wendell Berry.
There is simply no teacher meter that would have told anyone at the time that the teachers at Erik Loomis’ struggling high school in a dying mill town were in the process of producing Erik Loomis---Sorry. That’s Professor Loomis:
So how did I become an academic? I guess I’m not sure. My parents of course, who were not going to let my brother or I go into the mills. But a lot of it had to do with the awesome teachers I had. Sure we had some terrible teachers. My AP Lit course was a freaking joke. We had spelling tests in it. To my knowledge, no one actually took the AP Lit test. The building itself was more of a prison than a school. There were like 4 tiny windows in the entire school.
On the other hand, I am amazed at the commitment the majority of my teachers had. Think of what they had to deal with every day. I knew girls who got pregnant at 14. Who knows what happened to them. I knew people who had done every drug known to humankind by 15. God knows if they are still alive. There were stabbings outside my school. 2 or 3 years after I left they finally put in metal detectors and upped the police presence. There were growing racial tensions too as a burgeoning immigrant population from Mexico began attending the school.
How did anyone get a good education?
Because for at least part of our day, we had great teachers.
Read all of Erik’s post, Why I Support Public School Teachers at Lawyers, Guns & Money.