I just feel so inspired when I see the Algebra Project do their stuff. It makes me want to turn this blog into an all-out attack on educational injustice in this city, or an attack on the injustice to our children (Mike, given up by his mother, and then his great aunt, and now in a group home, and one of the brightest, nicest kids you'll meet, didn't show up to school today. I feel like I'm watching him on the train tracks, and the train of Baltimore is going to run him over unless I do something, and I don't know what to do. Please keep him in your thoughts.). But I don't really think I have it in me. I'm just not angry enough, or brave enough.
Anyhow, I can spread the word, though:
The man being arrested below is a parent of one of my favorite students over the last few years. I see him at the Y all the time; we both tend to work out during the 6am-7am hour. His son, who I taught as a 9th grader and an 11th grader and is now a senior, is lying on the left.
Here is his son, below. The newspaper didn't get his name or his school, which is a good thing - it makes me feel okay putting this linked photo here.
I taught this kid below last year. He is so polite; he shakes my hand and calls me "Sir." It took him a while before he realized that he couldn't charm me into a good grade, that he actually had to work. He got it, eventually. I think he's trying out for baseball this year. I can't believe he was arrested; I wonder how his mom reacted. We had each other's numbers programmed in each other's phones last year. I'm pretty proud that he's taken up this cause; he's a charismatic, well-spoken kid, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him enter politics.
This is a good description of what the Algebra Project does, from Sun reporter Sara Neufeld (via the Inside Ed blog:
The Algebra Project is a civil rights organization. Its members believe that education is the fundamental civil rights issue of our time. Its slogan is "No Education, No Life" because members believe that when our society fails to provide children with an adequate education, it's equivalent to giving them a death sentence. For years, the Algebra Project has been involved in a lawsuit charging the state with unlawfully underfunding Baltimore's schools. Its members have taken officials to task for failing to comply with a court ruling that found the state had unlawfully underfunded the city schools by $400 million to $800 million between 2000 and 2004. The group estimates that, by now, the state owes the school system at least $1 billion.
Making matters worse, Gov. Martin O'Malley -- who as mayor met with the Algebra Project and supported its quest for more state funding -- has now frozen the inflationary increases provided to school systems under the Thornton legislation (a statewide education funding initiative that grew out of the school funding lawsuit in the city). In Baltimore, that freeze will amount to a $50 million budget shortfall for next school year.
So all that was reason enough to protest. And then last month, Zachariah Hallback -- an 18-year-old Algebra Project member who had planned on participating in the "die-in" today -- was murdered, the victim of a foiled robbery attempt. To his Algebra Project colleagues, his death represented exactly why they are fighting, because when young people don't get a decent education, it's all too easy for them to turn to a life of crime instead.
A meditation on student engagement - It is our challenge to get students – and their parents and guardians – to bite from the apple of knowledge so as to savor its sweet, nourishing offerings...
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