Dr. Martin Haberman Discusses ?Star Teachers of Children in Poverty?

April 06, 2010

The greatest threat to American society is the 'mis-education' of 15 million kids in poverty, according to Dr. Martin Haberman, creator of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Teacher Education Program.


Haberman discussed 'Star Teachers of Children in Poverty' at Mount Union College on October 12.

'Three thousand kids drop out of high school every day,' said Haberman. 'We are creating a number of drop-outs equal in number to the population of a city the size of Chicago every two years in this country.'

Haberman cautions that even this figure does not fairly represent the enormity of the problem, because it only addresses high school dropouts, not those who dropped out before the eighth grade. In addition to this information, Haberman cited statistics that indicate how much less likely you are to graduate from high school if you are a minority.

Haberman, who has studied the downward spiral of urban education and the plight of the students, says in regard to his research, 'For children and youth in poverty from diverse cultural backgrounds who attend urban schools, having effective teachers is a matter of life and death.'

What character traits and skills make an educator a 'star teacher' is what Haberman presented to the students, community members, faculty and staff in attendance.

'The basic difference between 'star teachers' and others is they truly feel that for a child to be successful in school is a matter of life or death,' said Haberman. 'They are people who don't need to be loved or appreciated by their clients ' the students. Kids in poverty often don't appreciate their teachers, and many are openly hostile.'

In addition, Haberman says that 'star teachers' have a different perception of what they perceive as problems, and how they approach those problems.

'Very often teachers say that they want a class of high achievers with involved parents and students who present little discipline problems,' said Haberman. ''Star teachers' expect issues to be present, and they don't run away from these problems. They see dealing with these problems as their job.'

Haberman discussed what he sees as obvious problems in the hiring and training of teachers. Many school districts do not require face-to-face interviews for new teachers. Teachers are certified before they have any experience teaching, which is a relatively new phenomenon in education, according to Haberman. For the first 150 years of education in this country, a teacher would not be certified until they had taught at least one year in the classroom.

'Teachers are hired who have never had to attend an interview and this is presented as efficiency. Having a high grade point average does not guarantee you will be a successful teacher,' said Haberman. 'Also, many of our state colleges are graduating students with teaching degrees and only a very small minority are staying in the inner cities to teach. There is a tremendous systemic dislocation.'

Haberman is one of the founders of the SOE Urban Doctoral Program. He received the 1996 Teacher Educator of the Year Award from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

He is the author of seven books. Haberman has developed more programs preparing more teachers than anyone in American education. His interview for selecting urban teachers is used in 150 cities.

''Star teachers' don't base their success on whether or not they work in a dysfunctional system,' said Haberman. 'They take responsibility.'

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