Education in New Jersey is coming under attack on a daily basis. An Abbott district, is a district of low-income students. In New Jersey, Elizabeth has been one such district. Elizabeth is a melting pot of cultures. People arrive here from all over the world. There are 142 different languages spoken by students in that district. The city of Elizabeth has over 126,000 residents of which, over 67% speak a language other than English at home, and only 12% have an undergraduate degree (New Jersey State Department of Education, 2011). Only 30% of residents own their home, making students transient (New Jersey State Department of Education, 2011).
There are many teachers who arrive to teach in Abbot Districts who came from other industries, and they have taken an alternate route course to fulfill teaching requirements and be considered highly qualified. This means they generally haven’t studied education in college and they haven’t been able to take part in student teaching. Abbott districts also represent the largest most diverse school districts in the state. Due to lack of time, principals and administrators, are constantly being pulled in multiple directions leaving new teachers to fend for themselves.
Most teachers leave education within the first 5 years for an array of reasons. One of the common reasons seems to be the isolation of a new teacher as well as the feeling of being overwhelmed with so many responsibilities and minimum guidance being offered to the new teacher, this according to Stephen Williams, who wrote the grant proposal for the first alternate route program and Karen Feldcamp who has been an Alternate Route instructor for over 7 years.
Review of Related Literature
According to Bourgeois (1969), there is a crisis of authority that is pervasive in large cities across the nation. Elizabeth, NJ is not an exception. He says, “there are striking similarities in patterns and circumstances, events and moods among the various American cities. Second, there is a pervasive sense of powerlessness in many sectors of our cities and an anxiety, if not despair, concerning the capacity of a city's systems to ever operate effectively or even efficiently.” What this means is that many times those that are paid and hired to be community advocates and partners are seen as the enemy, not allowing partnerships to be formed between communities, leaders and public employees including teachers. While working as a trainer on Wall Street and then as a manager the one thing that was learned was that to develop a corporate culture you need to involve the employees and get them to buy into the ideas that are developed. In Elizabeth, teachers and school administrators can sometimes be seen as the enemy even when they do their best to educate students. They suffer from an image problem. Continental Airlines was one such company that was completely overhauled and a new image was developed under the leadership of Gordon Bethune.
When Gordon arrived at Continental he arrived at a company with employees who had low morale. He arrived at an airline that was not known for being on-time or even offering a product people cared for. Years of forced acquisition under the former CEO Frank Lorenzo had left an employee base that was defeated. For years schools in Abbott districts were located in the poorest cities. Students were in the most dilapidated schools. Students and parents are defeated. Now state governments who only recently started to fully fund these districts want to see changes. They want to see changes in schools where for less than 10 years schools have been properly funded. They forget that the elementary years establish basic skills needed to succeed in all subject areas. At school 27 where the researcher works as science teacher students can articulate their science knowledge, but because of...