dan is a good man

If you’re like most people, you think that teachers in this country get too much recognition, respect and money. And, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that’s going to change any time soon.

OK, that was kind of sarcasm. We all know that teachers don’t get much for their trouble. We also know that they’re out there every day doing something that’s extremely important. The way I look at it, the kids they’re teaching today could either be robbing us on the street or paying our Social Security when we’re old. That’s a damned important distinction and teachers often make the difference. The right teacher at the right time can change a person’s life.

So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to share this note I just got from my friend, Dan. Dan teaches in Brooklyn, New York, in one of the city’s most under-performing schools. I’m sure Dan could be making a lot more money and working under a lot less stress somewhere else, but he’s a better man than most of us. Here’s part of a note he sent to me yesterday after going back to school after the two-week vacation period (during which he and his wife gave birth to a daughter).

Going back to school today wasn’t that bad…. a lot of kids didn’t show up, so I had small classes, much easier to deal with, and after a break of 2 weeks, I actually kind of missed teaching, and even some of the kids. They were nice about the baby, asking her name, and why I didn’t name her Akila Lakeisha or something like that… I was glad I wasn’t there the Friday before xmas, as I heard today that there was a band of guys roaming the halls beating smaller kids and robbing them. One of my kids got robbed and isn’t returning to the school. They only caught one out of like ten of these kids. It’s so bizarre how much shit the kids can get away with in the school. It smells like pot there every day now. It’s going downhill – but going ok in my classes for the most part. Two subs walked out while I was gone. One got his cellphone stolen.

I bug Dan and tease him. I tell him it’s easy to teach in circumstances like these. I tell him to just watch “Boston Public” or to rent “Stand and Deliver.” I know it’s bullshit though. I know that it’s not as easy as Hollywood would have us believe. It’s a damned difficult job. And, I’m thankful that people like Dan go in every day and work with these kids.

On another note, how fucking sad is it that one of his students is dropping out of school rather than face the violence he sees there? It’s really disgraceful what we let take place in inner-city schools and we’ll definitely pay the price for it in the future. As with almost everything else, we’re way too shortsighted on this subject.

Dan, if you could drop me a line every now and then and let me know what’s taking place in class, I’d like to reprint it here. I’m interested and I think that some others might be too. (They sure as hell aren’t interested in broken ceramic rabbits and Conehead dolls.)

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