East coast educator says teachers should be held accountable

By WEEK Producer

August 16, 2012 Updated Aug 16, 2012 at 6:50 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Dr. Steve Perry told District 150 teachers and staff they owe it to the children of Peoria to give them everything they have this coming school year.
He says the difference between great schools and failed ones is not the children but the educators.

"In order to be a successful teacher, you need to start with a genuine love for children and what that means is that you want to make sure that they do it right," said Perry. "So you take the time to teach them; it's called teaching for a reason."

Perry is the founder of a nationally recognized Connecticut-based program that helps send low-income first-generation graduates to four-year colleges.

He says there are far too many excuses made for why students do not learn, adding teachers must be held accountable.

"My expectation is that everyone who is employed as an educator regardless of whether or not they're a teacher, no matter what your job, if you are employed by Peoria Public Schools, your obligation is to expect the best and get the most out of your children," said Perry.

Peoria Federation of Teachers President Bobby Darling says he did not think Perry's comments criticizing teachers were appropriate in setting on a positive tone for the start of school.

"There's many reasons why inner city schools struggle and we shouldn't spend the majority of the time talking about a very, very small number of teachers that may not belong in the classroom," said Darling.

"The focus was to remind us that we need to love children," said Grenita Lathan, Superintendent of District 150. "We need to be prepared to have high expectations for all children."

Tensions were a little high between Lathan and the teachers union back in May but despite that, both sides have agreed to keep working together. Classes resume August 20.

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