To Whom It May Concern:
You won’t believe the things I’ve seen. My ‘little’ in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program has parents that left him because of jail or drugs and a grandmother that has abandoned him. He gets suspended and sent home (to his wonderful 80-year-old great-grandmother) if so much as his peer next to him curses. Strength, resolve and hope have never been better displayed in a person—and he’s now repeating the 6th grade. Students from the wrong areas that visit the museum I work at walk in with holes in their shoes and are teased by their fellow students that are really no better off. Again and again, there are the grim signs of hardship breeding apathy among the most needing students. I need your help.
It’s been my only vocational ambition to close the educational gap. I’ll give anything and everything I have to do it right. Here’s how I have failed thus far. I have yet to secure an inner-city teaching post as I refuse to subject myself to the process of substitute teaching to earn my spot as a full-time teacher. I have also made the mistake of becoming a History teacher with no paid, in-school experience. I would teach Science or Math if I had greater enthusiasm for the subjects or could afford to go back to earn either of those undergraduate degrees. Now my license is expiring because I haven’t found a teaching post and then taken the PRAXIS III test to earn my 5 year license. I have fought this, but I’m now willing to accept that I’m being pushed out of this part of the system. But I can’t sit on the sidelines and watch these students’ potential decay. I want to get back in the game.
As well as a Social Studies teacher, I’ve taken on loans to move forward as a graduate student of Public Administration. I can teach, assist in governmental delivery of educational services, or both. Do you know of anywhere that could use me? I’ve only found closed doors so far. I’m willing to put everything on the line and start my own non-profit to tutor failing students one-on-one and organize others to do the same—but I don’t know if there’s state of federal funding for such a small-scale endeavor. Is there a place for me to find an engaging career in education reform?
Please, any guidance would be dearly appreciated.
Hey Dan, first of all, don’t give up! I think your enthusiasm for such a great cause is invaluable and it will take you far. I am not an expert in education policy and I probably cannot help you with your request, but I will tell you the little I know. I work for the Congressional Research Service, a service unit of the Library of Congress and the legislative research branch of the US Congress. We do hire analysts in Education. Our analysts basically provide information and anlalysis on a whole range of public policy issues. We are non-biased and non-advocative. So that is one route that you could consider. We do most of our entry-level hiring through the Presidential Management Program (a program administered by the Office of Personnel Management- you apply between your first and second year of graduate school). You can check out our website to find out more info: http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo. Now, you should definitely monitor vacancies at the US Department of Education. Warning: my experience in government has been extremely rewarding. However, “results” are sometimes hard to measure when you truly want to make a difference. It can get frustrating, annoying…etc. But I’m sure you’ll find your path. My cousin is a teacher in the “Teach for America” program. I’m so proud of her! And although it is not easy, she never gives up. She has the spirit and the willingness to keep on giving, which in my opinion, is the most valuable asset for success in any endeavor. Finally, thank you! We need more people like you.
Your passion is inspiring. Don’t give up. My main tip was to keep on knocking on doors – online and off-line. Talk to your professors, go to conferences nearby (volunteer so you can go for free), keep on writing (if you have something worthy of saying people will notice), apply a lot (I sent 50 job applications for my 1st gov’t job,I had 30 information interviews before landing my current one), and find people you aspire to be and ask for advice.