"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, September 16, 2005

A Request for Help

Before coming to New Jersey, I taught at Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville, where I had the pleasure of teaching a student whose email to me yesterday you see below. If you have suggestions or avenues of help for this student who so wants to help these children who have been left behind, let me know and I will pass on your ideas. (At least in the days before Brown, black students got the discarded books from the white schools. Now it seems some kids in poor schools don't get any).
I hope you are doing well. I'm still plodding along at una in
grad school. I'm getting close to student teaching, though.

I'm writing you because I need some advice. I think I told
you, but I know you have a lot to remember, I feel called
to teach in an inner-city school. I've been taking every
opportunity I can in classes to do projects that will be useful
to me once I am there. I've been studying a lot about race
and how white teachers further alienate minority students.
I am terribly conscious of this, and I'm taking every
opportunity to figure out how to NOT be like this. I'm
beginning to see this more and more everyday just by
listening to white teachers who are so narrow-minded in
their thinking and teaching. Anyway, I have a professor,
who I might add reminds me a lot of you, who is requiring
us to observe in the schools. I thought it would be
particularly useful for me to observe in a predominantly
black school in the county in which I grew up. While you
were in Huntsville did you hear of (name withheld)
in Lawrence County?

That is where I observed today.
I left in tears. The teacher I sat in with told me that
the 8th graders did not have enough books in order for them
to take them home, and the 10th graders didn't have any.
I asked her why, and she said that the board of ed told her
they couldn't do anything else for them. She very frankly
told me that they didn't seem to care about the black children.
I asked her what I could do. She told me that if I wanted
to say something to someone to be her guest and use her name
if I wanted to. This really concerns and upsets me. It's
2005 for crying out loud!!!!! What should I do? My mom told
me to call the candidate for superintendent who lost and
talk to him because he really liked stirring things up.
I know I'm meant to do something with this information. I
completely believe in fate. I'm going back out to help this
teacher tomorrow. The school recently merged and became
(name withheld), and so they had to create a new
library for the high school. The district began the bookshelves
but didn't finish them.!

She says she has thousands of books with no where to put them.
Are there any organizations I could write a grant proposal
to in order to help? I need a starting point, and I knew you
could help me.

Thanks so much, Dr. Horn. I have never forgotten how much you
inspired me or the impact you had on shaping how I believe.
My beliefs were always there, but you helped bring them out,
shape them, and you gave me the courage to speak out about
them.

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