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Why Teachers are Afraid to Go Back

  Opening schools to in-person learning is an extremely emotionally charged topic right now for parents and teachers both, and for good reason. With almost half a million Americans dead of COVID and worries about mental health crises from isolation very serious, there seem to be no good answers. In fact, one of my students recently told me that “there are no good options. There are only less worse options.” If the science says it’s safe and the district has a plan, which where I live has been approved by our very conservative Alameda County Public Health Department, then why aren’t all teachers excited about going back?  As a former classroom teacher, I want to explain this. Hint: It’s not about the science. The first thing you learn as a teacher is that you won’t make enough money. We joke about needing a rich spouse or family money but it’s not actually funny, because it’s so often true, especially for beginning teachers. The reason I am no longer in the classroom is becaus
Recent posts

Inauguration Poem

 Julia, one of my middle school students, wrote this for Biden's inauguration and said I could share. Amanda Gorman (pictured) was her inspiration.  (Poem shared with permission)   I was watching the inauguration on two screens the one on my TV screen and the one on my school screen that's how popular it was. It felt like someone put stuff Trump said/did in one book then someone ripped those pages out and put the good stuff Biden has done so far It felt like a new door was opening to a great new era now there will be a first Black woman vice president The outfits and coats that people were wearing were so beautiful I really liked Dr. Jill Biden's coat It had all the 50 states on it. Natalie Biden's coat was custom made. On Biden's first day, he didn't waste time It was as if he had to bring the whole country out of the cold So they could get warmer faster by Julia R.  

COVID in prison

 I have been a bit MIA because I broke my ankle on Thanksgiving (hiked back out two miles on a broken ankle!) and had surgery. So I forgot to worry that I hadn't heard from Jorge, my former student and co-author in prison, in a while. Turns out that I was right to worry, as he contracted COVID although seems to have made a full recovery. I got a letter from him today that he said I could share parts of. I'd like to highlight the very last paragraph. This young man was suffering from COVID, totally cut off from all his loved ones, scared and in prison, and he remembered to ask after my family and worry if we are feeling lonely. He is a remarkable person. ------------- Sorry for the late reply, there's been so much that's been going on since I got to this prison.... As you know, before quarantining when I got to this place for two weeks, I did it at SATF for two weeks also. So in total I quarantined for a month and my tests came back negative. After the two weeks here I g

From Jorge: Being Quarantined in Prison

Hi everyone! My co-author Jorge ( please buy our book, Letters From the Inside: Hope in the Journey Beyond Classroom and Cell . All proceeds go to his family!) wanted to update you all about daily life in prison. This is another blog post directly from him. If you want to help his family out financially or write to him, please contact me! I can't put photos of him or the prison so photo credit Sam C, a student who took some photos to evoke the feeling of prisons in various ways for this series. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ (This is a continuation of a post from earlier this week ) I asked the CO as to why this was happening but all he said was that medical called him and ordered him to do that but he didn't know why. So since he didn't give me the reason why this was happening, I walked to medical, and I asked them why I was getting quarantined. The nurse wrote my name down, then 10 minutes later, another nurse came out, call

Follow-up from Jorge: Moving Down a Level

 Hi everyone! My co-author Jorge ( please buy our book, Letters From the Inside: Hope in the Journey Beyond Classroom and Cell . All proceeds go to his family!) wanted to update you all about daily life in prison. The next couple blog posts will be from him! If you want to help his family out financially or write to him, please contact me! I can't put photos of him or the prison so photo credit Sam C, a student who took some photos to evoke the feeling of prisons in various ways for this series. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It's crazy how things can be going really good then with a snap of a finger it can just change out of nowhere! July 29th, I landed on F-yard, which is a level 2, my first time ever experiencing a level 2. My whole time incarcerated I have been cell living and that's how I been doing my time for the past six years, so I didn't know any different. So dropping down a level was a big change for me. When I

A Message from Jorge

I am so grateful for everyone who came to the virtual book launch for Letters From the Inside: Hope in the Journey Beyond Classroom and Cell. In conversation with author Mitali Perkins, also a friend of Jorge, my co-author, we had a conversation full of hope and promise. If you missed it, you can watch the video .  Of course, there was a very important person missing from the celebration: Jorge, my co-author. He will be incarcerated for at least another eight years. He wrote this message to all of you:  Although I cannot physically be present to discuss this book and my life, I hop e you all can understand a life  of a boy who was traumatized, hurting, and craving love and affection from those who were around. Growing up in the environment I was raised in was not easy and until today it is not easy. It’s been told that people like “me” who were in the wrong p ath, are set to fail. Most children do not get a fair chance to succeed, often times they are judged. But before judging a stru

An Anti-Racism Journey, Part 2

Part 1 is here . I feel like this could be as many parts as I had time to write, and I really hope that people offer some feedback. After I started teaching Black and brown kids, I quickly realized the work I needed to do, and in fact that all white educators need to do. Realizing that we have work to do, however, is a lot easier than doing the work. If you've never thought about it, take a minute to consider how public school systems are entrenched in white culture. The hand-raising instead of calling out, looking adults in the eye, lectures, sitting still... many of these are not necessarily best practices and are not what many non-white people do at home, but we force kids to adapt to this mold. I remember when I first thought to question this. I was a student teacher in Sacramento and didn't think twice about asking a child to "look me in the eye" to show respect. A Hmong parent gently pointed out that, in their culture, it was extremely rude for a child to l