Hello, my name is Monica Caldwell and I am the new East Coast Director of Teacher Development for Last Stand for Children First. What does that huge title mean? Well, basically I'm in charge of helping to improve the quality of instruction by getting good teachers into the classroom and bad teachers out. I believe that nothing is more important to a child's education than having a great teacher and I aim to see that every child on the East Coast has just that.
To tell you a little about myself, I'm 25 years old and I've spent the last year teaching in inner city San Diego as a Last Stand for Children Fellow. Before that, I was spent 2 years managing an Extreme Fitness and Tan and before that I was a philosophy major at the University of Chicago. I enjoy bike riding, Arcade Fire, and Jersey Shore.
This year in San Diego I learned literally a ton about teaching. A lot of my kids were literally growing up on the streets. I put aside the text book and immediately got them journaling. In my class they wrote about the tough deal they got in life and by Christmas they were writing amazing poetry. Unfortunately, several of the teachers were jealous and went to the principal who insisted that math class wasn't the place for poetry and journal writing and I had to go back to the text book.
Teacher tenure is a real bummer for me. I was the victim of last in first out policies this year and was asked not to come back, while the teachers that were jealous of me retained their jobs because of the union contract. When I tried to tell the principal how wrong this was, he refused to even admit that I was let go because of seniority and blamed it on my teaching methods and one small fire that was set in my classroom wastebasket.
In addition to tenure, I'm also very interested in ending collective bargaining for teachers, eliminating rules that limit class size, and promoting the growth of charter schools. One thing, I am really looking forward to is working with Mayor Bloomberg. The parents in New York just don't understand how much he cares about their children's education. I agree with what the Mayor said about New York City parents who oppose his education reform policies, "There are some parents who ... never had a formal education, and they don't understand the value of education."
I think I'm going to like this place. I've never been to New York before, but I'm ready to go there and save the children. The Last Stand for Children First train is coming and I hope everybody can get on board.