In defense of new state standards for teaching kids with diverse backgrounds
Critics are pushing the idea that Illinois is using divisive rhetoric to detract from what these standards really are: preparation for the reality of today’s classrooms.
No matter how old you are, I bet you can think back to your days as a student and remember moments when you either felt affirmed and valued by your teachers, or perhaps misunderstood or disregarded. We all know that teachers and school culture can have a profound and lasting effect.
Good teachers understand the massive and sustained impact — positive or negative — they can have on students’ lives. They know the importance of being cognizant of inherent biases in our culture. They understand that those biases have shaped their own worldview, and they work to counteract any negative effect on their teaching. They understand that a student’s background and life experience will influence how they experience school.
But to have this understanding across the board, we must provide all educators with tools to connect with students whose background and experience may be very different.
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This brings me to the Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards, developed by a diverse group of educators and unanimously approved by the Illinois State Board of Education.
As a former teacher and university instructor, I was involved in training teachers during their student teaching experience. These standards will ensure that all our future educators know the best practices that veteran educators already use every day. These valuable tools will be at the forefront of teacher prep coursework and field experience.
The standards are consistent with those set long ago by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, focusing on reflection, interacting with communities and student learning.
Yet critics would have you believe that Illinois is pushing a new idea and using divisive rhetoric to detract from what these standards are: preparation for the reality of today’s classrooms.
Our student population is increasingly diverse, and it is important that teachers in all corners of the state can create classroom and school environments that give every student a sense of belonging. These standards will ultimately foster classrooms and schools that are more inclusive of all students.
State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, 112th District
Chicago needs to honor Fritz Pollard
As Black History Month winds down, one of the greatest Black athletes from Chicago remains forgotten and ignored.
I am speaking of Fritz Pollard, who was born in Rogers Park and who starred in football at Lane Tech High School, graduating in 1912. Fritz went on to become a College All-American at Brown University.
The first year Fritz played in the National Football League, for the Akron Pros, he led his team to the 1920 championship, beating out George Halas’ team, the Decatur Staleys. In 1921, he became the first Black pro football coach. The second Black coach wasn’t hired for another 68 years.
Fritz also was the first Black pro football quarterback, in 1923, and the second didn’t come for another 45 years. He was elected to the College Hall of Fame in 1954 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
For all of that, Fritz remains ignored and forgotten in Rogers Park and Chicago. Something needs to be done to light a fire under city and park district officials to honor this great athlete from Chicago!
Homer H. Johnson, Uptown