Would you accept a teaching position in an area with a severely high crime rate?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by mary2122, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. mary2122

    mary2122 Rookie

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    Jun 16, 2012

    Hey everyone....I have a dilemma...I have been searching for a teaching job for 3 years....finally it seems like I am well on my way to receiving an offer for a school district that has amazing values...great opportunities...and personal/professional development along the entire way. I was so amazed with the school by all means. Then I experienced the area and did a bit of research. It has VERY high crime rates...one of the highest in the country. My parents are worried and they kind of scared me so I am here for some logical answers. I truly have a passion in working in an urban area and helping the children build character and find their own potential to be anything they want to be and conquer anything. Any thoughts? I hope I am not coming off as judgmental but of course I am going to worry about my own safety. Thank you everyone
     
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  3. mkbren88

    mkbren88 Cohort

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    I personally wouldn't take a position like that, but I know it's because my husband would be very wary and would just make it a miserable year. If I had been searching for 3 years, and found a school that matches my values and what I want from teaching, then I would take it. I would just fully understand what you are getting into. I'd ask current teachers and the principal how the crime is around the school. It could be the surrounding neighborhoods are bad, but maybe the school is alright. Good luck with your choice!
     
  4. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    I have worked in extremely low-income urban areas for 4 years now. Yes, there are challenges, but in general, I love it. My only real concessions to the crime rate of the area are:
    1. If I'm going to be there after dark, luckily, my dear hubby comes, too.
    2. I keep my car doors locked at all times.
    3. I keep my classroom doors locked any time I am not in the room and any time it is not expressly student school time.\
    4. I keep my eyes and ears open and make sure that I am aware of what is going on around me.

    Honestly, I think I would do these things no matter where I was teaching, though. Just be smart, and you should be fine.
     
  5. emb382

    emb382 Rookie

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    If you are passionate, then go for it! I would definitely teach in this setting, though I would probably commute to the school. I would also be able to have my hubby accompany me after dark.
     
  6. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I would. You will be there primarily in the day time. Never be in the building alone after hours, and try to always walk out with someone even on normal days. Make sure there is nothing visible in your car.
    You have been searching for THREE years. If I were at that point, I'd take any job!
     
  7. mcqxu

    mcqxu Comrade

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    I agree that you should take the job. What you described (matching your values, etc.) is often hard to find in urban school districts. I student taught in a low-income area with higher crime rates, and it was tough but very rewarding. The district was on a hiring freeze, but if there had been a position I would have taken it.
     
  8. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    I worked in an area of high crime, one of the highest two areas in the city. I did it for a year. I decided to look for a job in a different area of the city when parents of my students started cautioning me about waiting for the bus by myself. I didn't ever feel to scared waiting for the bus in the fall/spring/summer, however in the winter when it got dark in the winter at 4:15. I didn't like it.
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jun 16, 2012

    I currently teach in an area with a very high crime rate. It's completely doable, especially if you love the school and have a supportive admin.

    It also helps if you have some common sense--like others have suggested, keep your doors locked, find someone to walk you to your car if it's far away from the building, don't stay too late when it will be dark when you leave, etc.
     
  10. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I am working in a higher crime area next year. It was the exact job I wanted and I liked the school, so I took it. My parents were a little worried as well, but I didn't think twice as I didn't feel like I'd have another shot at that type of job elsewhere (I'd been teaching sped and really wanted to get into regular ed, but it's hard once you've been pigeon-holed as a sped teacher). I have always found that personally I prefer to take any extra work home where I can be more comfortable rather than spending hours upon hours at school anyway, so I know I won't be around by myself at night or anything. I'll be driving myself so no need to worry about public transportation or anything like that. I always lock my car and keep valuables out of sight just out of habit anyway, even though I live in a safe area now. I think just be smart about it and you'll be fine. Many of the schools that I did my college practicums in were in similar crime rate areas and I really never felt that unsafe as I was always there during the day. Especially if you've been looking for three years, I would jump on any job offer!
     
  11. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I worked in a school like that. There were shootings all around but the school was sort of in a bubble.
     
  12. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Jun 16, 2012

    Most schools themselves are fairly safe havens that know how to function when a lockdown is required. Take the job but think proactively. Perhaps you can make sure that you walk to your car with other teachers so there is some safety in numbers.
     
  13. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Jun 16, 2012

    You say you're passionate about this. May I ask how you know? Do you have experience working in such an area with such a population? If you have experience, then I would imagine you would enjoy it, especially within a good school. If not, I might be a little hesitant. Of course, I fully realize you sometimes just have to jump in and test the waters! Best wishes! The kids deserve a great teacher! :)

    To answer your question, I think working in one of the most dangerous places in the entire country would be far, far outside my comfort zone.
     
  14. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I don't think I could work or live somewhere where I was concerned with safety.
     
  15. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Working in a school with a high crime rate isn't so bad if you use a little sense. Leave with others or when it is still light out, keep things locked, and always find your keys before you leave the building.

    I would take another look at the school and see if it looks like a safe place. If you didn't realize the crime rate before searching, then it is probably not as scary as you think.
     
  16. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    I worked in such a place. The outside doors were ALWAYS locked. The parking lot was fenced & during school hours were locked. I did hear stories of teachers going out after school & finding their car on cinder blocks. Nothing like that happened while I worked there.

    A school that a friend of mine worked at did not allow their teachers to stay in the building after dark. They had to be out by a certain time. Their parking lot was fenced & locked at all times. You had to have the code to open the gate.
     
  17. teach42

    teach42 Comrade

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    Jun 16, 2012

    Do you have experience working with that kind of population of students? I would also make sure that the admin will actually be supportive of you or you will be in for a heck of a year. The district and school may boast all of these wondering attributes about themselves but it might be another thing in reality. The best way to find out is to ask the teachers who work there what their experience has been like. After my experience this year, I don't think I would consider working in such an environment again.
     
  18. mary2122

    mary2122 Rookie

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    Jun 16, 2012

    Thank you everyone for your responses! I only got to read a few since I am so busy today but thank you all in advance and I will catch up on the rest tomorrow!

    Some more information to support my first post.....there are professional development workshops each week....and there is a time each week where you share any concerns or worries that you have so the admin can support you. they seem very supportive. Also it is not a contracted position so essentially I could leave at any time even though I would never leave my class mid year unless EXTREME circumstances happened. But after a year if I feel like its just not for me, I can leave.

    I also have to say that I have not full experienced the area and I am going off of what I read online and News reportings of that area. So I have to admit I am being a little stereotypical at the moment and fearing the worst like shootings...robberies...car robberies...and that sorts. I also have to say that I grew up in a very good neighborhood that had a very low crime rate so its just a shock.

    However i am a hard worker and I have a passion to make a difference. Thats one of my largest goals...is to make a difference in as many peoples' lives as possible. I know i can do this...i just wanted some logical opinions regarding my safety :)

    Job offers in the teaching world do not come often as you all know! Thank you all and keep the replies coming i love hearing different opinions!
     
  19. teachart

    teachart Comrade

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    Jun 16, 2012

    I would without hesitation. I would probably be more concerned for the well being of my students than my own safety (although I would heed the advice that others have given you.)
     
  20. applecore

    applecore Devotee

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    I would as well....but doing research about the area, finding street smarts with who's who and what's what in the area, and keeping to the teacher code: you teach because you love to made a difference in kids, who need teachers to choose them and tell them they are worthy.
     
  21. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    If you're that positive about it, then you might really enjoy it. I teach in a so-called "dangerous" neighborhood and while I wouldn't be walking around there at night by myself I've never felt unsafe. In the winter when it gets dark early I do try to leave early or walk out with other people. I always make sure my iphone, keys, etc. are not visible because I know people have been mugged for those things. Take a drive around the neighborhood and see how you feel. Around the school I mostly see parents, children, families going to and from the school's playground or waiting at the bus stop by the school.

    See if there's a garage where you can pay to park your car monthly so that you don't have to worry about leaving it on the street, that might save you some hassle/peace of mind. Talk to other teachers at the school and see how they handle working in such a neighborhood. It's not like you'll be alone!
     
  22. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Jun 16, 2012

    I worked at a school with a high crime rate. It wasn't so bad. However, I turned down an interview at a school in the same district after driving there and finding they had bars on all the windows, and absolutely no on-site parking. It was inside a public housing park, which meant you would have to park your car on the street. There was a huge sign on the school saying "School not responsibly for car damages."

    I took the hint, drove home, and canceled the interview for the next day.
     
  23. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    I would NOT do it. There's a few districts in my county that are probably better than I think...well, maybe not, but I wouldn't dream of working there in a million years & not just due to the crime rate, but the disobedience of the kids.
     
  24. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    I work in a city that has a high crime rate. It is in certain areas of the city that it is bad. I also have worked in one area of the city that is a very high crime area. I now work in an opposite area of the city. Where I work now we have had more car break ins than the other school, less stuff taken from our classrooms though. At the other one I always left before dark or had my car right outside my portable before dark. At no point was I actually scared while working there.

    The behavior problems were much more severe in the more high crime area. The children had more emotional issues there. The children were farther behind in the grade I was teaching at the school in the high crime area. I would not go wandering around that area like I am comfortable doing where I am now.
     
  25. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I have thought about this more, and I wouldn't. I need to feel safe and comfortable where I spend a large portion of my life.
     
  26. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I think this is true too. I didn't realize that about my new school's area until after I interviewed, realized it went well, and started really searching the area for housing. I could tell it was a low SES area as the houses were small, but overall it looked pretty "normal" to me. Lots of sidewalks with people out walking dogs or babies in strollers. I just checked to make sure that there were some commutable areas so I wouldn't have to live directly in that neighborhood for work. Once I realized I would have plenty of housing options to choose from with a reasonable commute, it was really a non-issue for me. The student population is similar to the population I work with now so no concerns there either. We have a smattering of high ses families in my previous school, but I can honestly say the high ses "issues" were a bigger burden to me than the low ses ones. I don't know that I could enjoy working in a "rich" school. It's all a matter of personal preference!
     
  27. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I've always taught at schools in highly impoverished areas. I truly wouldn't have it any other way! For most of the kids who come to me, I'm the only adult in their life who's there for them each and every day. Although I can't control what they go home to (and it makes me sad to think about what they're exposed to), at least I know that I'm providing them with a loving environment that also stimulates them academically!
     
  28. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    I couldn't do it, but I applaud those that do. I think if I were elementary school, I might be able to do it, but at the high school, I would have a hard time with that population.
     
  29. timsterino

    timsterino Comrade

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    I would because I truly believe ALL students deserve quality teachers no matter what their circumstances are.
     
  30. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    I've worked in a VERY high crime area. It wasn't even in a public school so we didn't have a police officer in our school. With that said, I just took precautions like the other posters have mentioned here and everything was fine. Yes, certainly be cautious, but I say definitely take the position. It sounds like you've found a position that fits your passion.
     
  31. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    :thumb: bless you, YTG!
     
  32. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    It would depend on how badly I needed work and exactly how dangerous it is. I work in a rural, high-poverty area. The area is not dangerous. However, it is isolated and common sense tells me to lock my vehicle in the parking lot, be aware of my surroundings, and never be there by myself after dark.

    I have no urban experience at all, so I would be hesitant for that reason. All my experience, job and otherwise, is in a rural setting.
     
  33. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Security/Custodians would happily walk you to your car if that is the biggest concern. I had a professor tell us once that if the kids like you they will also look out for your car and tell you where not to park etc.
     
  34. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    It would depend on the parking security and entry security of the school. I work in a moderately high crime area, but my school's security is good
     
  35. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    I would. I live near a city that is the former murder capital of the world, and very crime ridden. I never applied in that district, but that was because the school system has rifed teachers every single year for as long as I have been paying attention. Job security is as important as my personal safety. I never really hear about anything happening in the schools that would make me concerned about working there.
     
  36. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    And I did work in that city (How could I forget)! I worked at a charter school. It wasn't in the best neighborhood, but the neighborhood wasn't horrible either. I was never afraid of anything happening to me or my students. They didn't have the best security, other than a fence that was locked after hours, but was open during the day. The outside door was locked, but they would let you in if you rang because they didn't have any kind of speaker system. I would definitely check to see what the neighborhood is generally like to determine how safe I would be going in and out, but I wouldn't turn down the opportunity.
     
  37. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    That's the sort of school I've taught in for most of my 22 years.

    The apathy of the community, students, administration, and fellow teachers can wear on you. If there are regular violent incidents in the school as with ours, it can make you feel more like a gatekeeper than an educator.


    :|
     
  38. mary2122

    mary2122 Rookie

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    Thank you all for the thorough responses. I am very confused and I know I will get a better feel after the interview. However im even nervous for the interview for safety reasons. I had a few family events over the weekend and everyone is basically begging me not to take it OR saying things like....well I will pray for you. Its just not how I thought I would feel...I guess i thought getting this far in the interview process would be something that made people proud of me but i cant help to feel even more nervous by the way everyone around me is acting. I think im just fearing that I am not being logical.
     
  39. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    mary, you said your family doesn't want you to work there. That's actually something I first thought of when I read your original post...my husband would not "allow" me to work in a truly dangerous area. A place which required security out to your car is just difficult for me to imagine, and I believe my husband would do what he could to help me avoid it. That said, I know several people who gave me sad looks when I was hired in another district and it was completely unwarranted. It was more a matter of stereotyping and intolerance.
     
  40. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Both of my parents are from graduating classes of 8 or less. So they come with a small town perspective.

    They were not thrilled with my 1st teaching job, in the city. A burned out building was across the street from the school. They didn't say anything at first. In fact, each school I have been at, has been in the city.

    They would be much happier if I worked in the suburbs. In fact, they have encouraged me to look for a job in the suburbs.

    I know when I went to interview at my first school, I was nervous. I drove down to the school just to see where I was going. Did I park on the street or in the lot? How do I get in? I think I parked in the lot & walked around.

    Call the school and ask those questions. It'll help put your mind at ease to know where you can safely park.

    Once you get at the school look around, ask questions. Are the doors locked? Bars on windows? (My first classroom had bars). What is the security like? What does the school feel like?

    Go from there.
     
  41. mary2122

    mary2122 Rookie

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    Jun 26, 2012

    I want to thank everyone for your help! I apologize for not updating sooner! I went on the interview last wednesday and I was actually mad at myself for thinking poorly towards the students. The area was not safe and I could tell that I would have to be careful but the school definitely is spending a lot of its budget on keeping the school safe. I have never seen so many cops in one school! I felt safe for sure. I hope i get this position...i think it would be a great starting point. Thank you all again.
     

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