Oprah Winfrey always said she had wanted to be a teacher. She wanted to be the Teacher of the Year, in fact. She pursued a career in journalism instead and went on to become a multi-millionaire media mogul. As a black girl growing up in Chicago, I wanted to be just like Oprah. I had moments in elementary school when I wanted to be a teacher, but I mostly wanted to be a famous writer. Like Oprah I pursued a career in journalism, but choose to concentrate on print media instead of television broadcast. Too many black journalists told me ...


I stumbled across my resume the other day and examined every major place I've worked in the past. I took a moment to reflect on my experience at each school and each journalistic publication. I paused over each university listed, each honor bestowed upon me. I recalled the mountainous triumphs and the deep, dark valleys of despair. At times I was full of fiery optimism and there were phases when I could barely bring myself to get out of the bed. I thought about the loved ones I had lost while working at this job and that, and each child ...


Will all taxpayers in America—rich or struggling—see their taxes go up come January 2, 2013? Will the federal government simultaneously slash its budget across all departments by nearly 10 percent? As Americans are ringing in the New Year, will our government resuscitate an economic recession with its flawed policies? I'm no political pundit, and I'm certainly not an economist, but I think this is the part in the script where Homer Simpson says "D'oh!" Enacting the so-called "fiscal cliff" probably sounded like a good idea to Congress in 2011 to force bickering partisan legislators to take action by...


Did your guy win or lose? Half of the nation is celebrating this day after the presidential election, and the other half is shaking its head in defeat. The next four years look hopeful. The next four years look bleak. I was too tired last night to stay up late waiting for the polling results. So when I got up at 5 a.m. I asked my husband to tell me who won. "Don't tell me ... No, tell me who won—don't tell me. Okay just tell me already!" "Four more years," is all he said. I quickly sat up and...


I went to bed last night at 9:30 and I woke up at 1:30 in the morning. As hard as I tried, I couldn't go back to sleep. I suffer from a condition called Working-Mother-Wife-Teacher Syndrome. Here were some of the thoughts that kept me awake: 1) I need to finish grading the last eight student memoirs, and each one takes me about 15 minutes for me to assess. I had collected 70. 2) I have to write a blog. 3) I have two interns coming in today to observe me teach and ask me questions. I am ...


A friend named Mick sent me an email last week about what happened to his friend Christopher's three-year-old daughter. The child got very sick, but he couldn't take her to the doctor immediately because he didn't have the money. Where he lives, the doctors require their basic examination fee paid in full up front, and Christopher had less than a dollar to his name. By the time he was able to scrape up the money, he hired a taxi to take his daughter to the hospital. But the child was too far gone, and she died within 10 hours. Still, ...


Change is hard, especially for the Chicago Public Schools. We have had five CEOs of the school system in the past four years. Arne Duncan. Ron Huberman. Terry Mazany. Jean-Claude Brizard. And now, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, or B3 as her nickname goes. At least we finally got a woman in the top spot! But whether this is change we can believe in is another question. Byrd-Bennett said in her announcement press conference last week that she is in Chicago "for the long haul." That, of course, is not entirely up to her. Mayor Rahm Emanuel hires and fires in this town. ...


If you hang around middle schoolers long enough, you can learn a lot—even a few things about sex. When I was their age, no one talked to me about sex. When I got my menstrual period, all my mother told me was that if I started fooling around with boys I could get pregnant. I figured out what "fooling around" meant by watching veiled sex scenes on TV shows like Dynasty and talking to the "fast" girl who lived next door. I was naïve for a long time and, to let my husband tell it, I'm still rather...


I'm still in bed The small hum of my husband's car backing down the driveway My hand gropes for the pull-chain on the nightstand lamp I place my laptop on my old cutting board and slowly open it up The chill of the wood now warming against my thighs Click, click, clicking of keys It's 4:30 a.m. Papers from school still in my bag, ungraded Students will ask for them and get mad Daughters asleep in their bunk bed Dolls once snuggled and cuddled now on the floor I will learn of their midnight dreams and pretend to ...


Every now and then, I have students who are uncomfortable around me, like they are scared. During a teacher-student conference I have to ask them to pull their chair up to my desk a little closer. "I don't bite," I tell them. "I'm not a cannibal, though I've been accused of being one." Wait, wait, and let me explain: I imagine that African American women's infamous dislike of our kinky, tightly coiled hair goes back to the days of the African slave trade. Most black women at some period in our lives have either chemically processed our hair, added extensions ...


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