One morning in September 1974, having just earned my M.A. in English and begun my long trek to a Ph.D., I borrowed my sister's car and drove to Lehman College in the Bronx, where I had just been hired to teach freshman composition.
Adrianne -- to borrow a line from "As Good As It Gets" -- makes my son want to be a better man. At least, she makes him want to be a better kid. My son is 5 years old, and Adrianne is his preschool teacher.
When I saw this news story on Facebook, I clicked to read the comments below the article. Many people offered condolences and remarked on how alarming the gun violence rate in Chicago has become. One particular comment thread caught my eye.
When you go home and push me from your mind, I'm still thinking of you. Long after you graduate and are thanking God Beowulf is behind you and there are no more papers to write, you'll forget me, but I will still think of you.
I always tell people -- you know you're a person who really cares when the students visit you daily. When kids who aren't yours or who have moved on come back to visit you, it says something. It says that they know you care.
No one mentions the ways the children are failed, how it is not the responsibility of students of color to educate their ignorant white teachers. No one is horrified that these students were yet again disadvantaged by a system we hold up as the best way for these same kids to get a leg up.