iOS app Android app

David Chura
GET UPDATES FROM David Chura
 
David Chura is the author of “I Don’t Wish Nobody to Have a Life Like Mine: Tales of Kids in Adult Lockup” which received a 2010 PASS Award from the National Council on Crime & Delinquency. He has worked with at-risk teenagers for the past 40 years. For 26 of those years, he taught English and creative writing in community based alternative schools and in a county penitentiary. His writings have appeared in the New York Times as well as other scholarly and literary journals. Visit his website at www.kidsinthesystem.wordpress.com

Entries by David Chura

Who Fails When Students Give Up?

(0) Comments | Posted March 11, 2014 | 6:40 PM

Most teachers are curious about what school is like for a student. Meet a kindergarten tyke encountering the classroom for the first time; a middle schooler trying to balance body chemistry, a developing mind and new ways of learning; a high school teenager looking beyond the classroom into the world...

Read Post

Prison Is No Place to Grow Up: Why Every State Must Enact Juvenile Justice Reform

(7) Comments | Posted October 30, 2013 | 4:55 PM

Most of us know at least a few young teens -- 15-, 16-, 17-year-olds. A son or daughter. A niece or nephew. A neighbor or a friend's grandchild. We see them around, waiting for the school bus, surfing the sidewalk on a skateboard, hanging out at the mall. Despite what...

Read Post

A New Teacher Asks: "How Do I Do This?"

(4) Comments | Posted September 3, 2013 | 3:56 PM

He was a big man, a presence to be reckoned with on any football team. Dressed in a pressed shirt and colorful tie, he spread his arms out and gestured around the room. "I'm a new teacher here. How do I do this?" he asked.

I knew what "this" was--a...

Read Post

Why Teachers Are Afraid

(71) Comments | Posted July 10, 2013 | 2:46 PM

This isn't about teachers being afraid that they'll be knifed in class, or have their cars stolen in the bad neighborhoods where they teach. Nor are they worried that a disruptive student will threaten them, or that a disturbed gunman will invade their school. It's not about being berated by...

Read Post

The Many Faces of Teacher Activism

(9) Comments | Posted June 10, 2013 | 5:01 PM

When I was recently asked if I thought teachers today needed to be activists I didn't hesitate in my answer. "Being a teacher, almost by definition, means being an activist."

That might come as a surprise to those teachers who have never wrote a letter to the editor,...

Read Post

What Common Core Curriculum Misses

(9) Comments | Posted April 22, 2013 | 11:27 AM

It's hard reading about the lockstep curriculum set out by Common Core with its emphasis on "informational readings," and seeing all the hoops students and teachers have to jump through to meet its standards. Quite frankly, it makes me sad.

"Why sad?" you might wonder. Frustrated, maybe, or for that...

Read Post

Why Ending Prison Rape Won't Be Easy

(46) Comments | Posted January 23, 2013 | 1:06 PM

It's an optimistic headline: "Prison Rape: Obama's Program to Stop It." It leads into a comprehensive New York Review of Books article on three recently released Federal government publications. Two of these documents examine sexual abuse in the nation's detention centers while the other outlines the Department of...

Read Post

The High Stakes of Child Poverty

(2) Comments | Posted September 21, 2012 | 2:53 PM

I met Amber at a tutoring program for inner city children. It was 1966, my senior year in high school, and the war on poverty was on, a war we've failed to win.

At nine-years-old Amber looked like a scarecrow, an old scarecrow at that, bird-picked, weather beaten. She...

Read Post

The Harm We Do: Kids in Solitary Confinement

(22) Comments | Posted September 7, 2012 | 5:19 PM

When most Americans hear the familiar constitutional phrase "cruel and unusual punishment" they can tell you what it means, at least to them. Hanging. Flogging. Chopping a hand off. Chain gangs.

Putting juvenile offenders in solitary confinement is high on my list of "cruel and unusual punishment." What else...

Read Post

Seeking Justice and Real Crime Prevention

(8) Comments | Posted July 31, 2012 | 4:14 PM

"You don't care about the victims. All you care about are those kids."

It was a comment I've heard in one form or another at book events, at juvenile justice talks I've given, or in response to pieces I'd written about our national policy of retribution towards troubled kids. I...

Read Post

In Our Toxic Prison System, Is There Room for Hope?

(2) Comments | Posted July 5, 2012 | 11:05 AM

I didn't expect my talk to a class of criminal justice majors at a local community college to be any different from the other workshops, presentations and classes I'd done. The students had read my book for class. I figured I'd talk about the book, about my 10 years teaching...

Read Post

Who Are the True 'Failures' in America's School System?

(18) Comments | Posted May 8, 2012 | 2:01 PM

Like most teachers I've gotten some praise from my high school students over my 26 years of teaching -- a lesson "wasn't bad," or a particular class was "sorta interesting." I've even been told that I was a "pretty good teacher." High praise coming from teenagers.

But...

Read Post

Keeping Locked-up Kids and Families Connected

(0) Comments | Posted February 1, 2012 | 3:15 PM

Arizona's legislature recently passed a law charging prison visitors a onetime $25 fee as a way to help close the state's $1.6 billion budget deficit. Middle Ground Prison Reform, a prison advocacy group, challenged the law in court as a discriminatory tax, but a county judge upheld its...

Read Post

Children of Disappointment and the Season of Hope

(4) Comments | Posted December 22, 2011 | 9:45 AM

If anyone doubts that the young people locked up in our jails are children they should spend some time in one of those prisons around holiday time.

I did just that for the 10 years I taught high school students, some as young as 15, in an adult county jail,...

Read Post

Through Her Eyes: The World of At-risk Girls and Young Women

(3) Comments | Posted December 7, 2011 | 3:20 PM

It was like a giant switchboard, the kind you see in 30s and 40s movies, a bevy of operators plugging in a crisscross of wires, taking calls, making connections, a cacophony of chatter.

That image came to me recently as I walked into the lobby of the MassMutual Center in...

Read Post

First the Good News: At-risk Kids (May) Get Some Justice

(1) Comments | Posted November 7, 2011 | 4:32 PM

There's been some good news in the media lately for anyone who cares about kids and justice. Federal statistics show that the number of juvenile offenders in jail has dropped by at least 25%. Along those same lines, the New York Times recently reported that New York Chief...

Read Post

What Every Reader Asks: 'What's It Got to Do With Me?'

(2) Comments | Posted September 29, 2011 | 12:44 PM

She was pretty upfront about it: she didn't want me there.

"It's not you personally," Marge explained. "It's the book."

Marge was the moderator, researcher, engine, really, of a local reading group. She was good at what she did, I was told, and I believed it. She was pretty thorough...

Read Post

A Global History Lesson in Hope

(2) Comments | Posted August 30, 2011 | 9:33 AM

In a six-by-eight-foot jail cell, there's barely room for a bunk, a seatless toilet, and a postage-sized sink. The only other space you have in jail is in your head, and even that gets crowded with all the people you carry around in there who you resent for the things...

Read Post

A Different Kind of Commencement

(3) Comments | Posted July 26, 2011 | 11:42 AM

Now that all the high school graduations are over and the backyard barbecues celebrated, I'm finally coming down from the contact high of all that youthful exuberance and optimism.

It's easy to get swept up into those good feelings. But now as I move into summer's quieter months, I...

Read Post

Book Peddlers: Why One Author Hits the Promotion Road

(3) Comments | Posted July 5, 2011 | 6:43 PM

The only people who think it's fun to do book promotion and events are the ones who haven't written a book, at least in my experience. I hear it all the time from friends and family. "How exciting!" "I wish I could do something like that."

A writer friend...

Read Post