Saturday, April 19, 2008


We've made it to the turning point.
When we return from break it will be time to begin graduation practice (for 5th grade), do intense reteaching, especially in math, to make sure kids master what they need to before they leave the grade, and fill them with all I can, academically and otherwise, before I leave.
I'm not sure that I've stated it officially here, but I will be leaving at the end of the year.
I will remain in NYC, and I will be teaching kids of the same socioeconomic population....but I will be joining a staff at a school that does it the right way. It will mean moving to Brooklyn, and working long hours (it's a charter school), and not belonging to the UFT anymore....and I'm so ready.
The only hard part is leaving my kids. With under 2 months left, it doesn't seem real.
"They'll'll always be in touch....they're your babies," assure other teachers at my school.
"You'll always know them. You're a family," one said to me the other day.
"But what if they don't?" I asked.
"They will," she said.
But what if they don't.......
And I realize that I need them probably more than they need me. They have been my life for 2 years. The reason I gave up a world I had built somewhere else to move to a city where I knew no one. The reason I went in to work sick, exhausted, and stressed beyond comprehension. The reason I can't imagine doing anything else for the rest of my life.
They are not just my students.
They were the first....and goodbye is not an option.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


The "N" Word

In this modern day world
We seem to consume
The "N" word of hate
The slave word for doom

This word has been drenched

In red from our blood
It enslaved us like swine
Chain dragged through the mud

How fast we forget
Those lynch mobs and scars
The burnings and beatings
Those hot branding bars

Our freedom was taken
Our humanity stole
We were just that "N" word
No body no soul

Our women were raped
Some men were castrated
Black children were sold
Our race was degraded

With the crack of a whip
This word was yelled out
With each break in our necks
The rope showed no doubt

We were hunted like prey
Then put on the block
We were branded as slaves
With a chain brace and lock

This "N" word was use
To take guilt out of blame
Because it made us inhuman
To be killed with no shame

Yet after all of those years
Of that suffering pain
The use of this word
Has weaken our brain

We throw it around
Like a word with no past
But history lives on
From the shadow it cast

It's now part of our language
In every sentence we say
It shows off our ignorance
In a sorry sad way

There's no other culture
And no other race
That would embrace such a slur
Or welcome disgrace

Yet we as Black people
Have done so for years
Our dignity lost
Without feelings or tears

It's part of the reason
We will never excel
Or out-live our slums
And Ghetto-ish hell

I read this with my kids today. I can't even describe the conversation we had.
None of my kids use the word in my classroom, but many do in the yard and the street, and it is still very much a part of their culture.
"There's a lot of blood behind that word," said Yahkemp at the end.
"I'm gonna tell people not to say it anymore," said Chris.
"Yeah, me too," added Jose.
Knowledge is power.