Teacher Of The Year Essays Accountability

California Teachers of the Year 2018

"I am proud of how many of my former students have chosen to become teachers themselves, some of them at San Diego High right alongside me." -- Jaime Yumiko Brown, San Diego High School of International Studies, San Diego Unified School District, San Diego County

"I respect my students as individuals. I accept them where they are in life and we grow together. I continue to learn from them as much as they learn from me." -- Kirsten Farrell, Venice High School, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County

"Moments of discovery can be life-changing for the students, and being part of that energy, that passion, that curiosity led me into teaching and has kept me here nearly 20 years." -- Greg Gardiner, Edison High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District, Orange County

"Each year 100 Regiment students and parents manage the 50 mile SAG stop for the 100 mile Tour de Palm Springs charity ride. They spend the day unloading supplies, preparing food, administering first aid, patching tires, and performing pieces like 'Theme from Rocky' or 'Uptown Funk'." -- Brian McDaniel, Painted Hills Middle School, Palm Springs Unified School District, Riverside County

"My students were inspired to give back to the community after receiving Chromebooks through a local grant, so we organized a fundraiser for the local animal shelter, created flyers on our new Chromebooks and raised over $300 from collecting cans and bottles." -- Erin Oxhorn-Gilpin, Northlake Hills Elementary School, Castiac Union School District, Los Angeles County

California Teachers of the Year 2017

"Oh, Mr. Bunn, can you call my other teacher so we can stay for another five minutes to figure this problem out? We almost got it. Please?" -- Shawn Bunn, Ethan A. Chase Middle School, Romoland School District, Riverside County

"Opportunities in schools should be equitable no matter where on lives or what the median income of the community is. The hope is that every single student will have opportunities to discover their strengths and explore their passions." -- Jenny Chien, Casita Center for Technology, Science and Math, Vista Unified School District, San Diego County

"Our home base in Room P-111 provides security and comfort when needed, but also the confidence for each of our Del Norte Nighthawks to soar with the rest of the flock." -- Megan Gross, National Teacher of the Year Candidate, Del Norte High School, Poway Unified School District, San Diego County

"Yes, teaching is hard work, but just as a lawyer has to defend his client, and a doctor has to save his patient, we teachers have the amazing task of teaching while guiding, cultivating and inspiring our children." -- Isela Lieber, James Monroe High School, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County

"I have mentored student teachers, new teachers, veteran teachers, and even administrators. My message has always been that it is not about us, it is about the kids in our classroom." -- Corrie Traynor, Barrett Ranch Elementary School, Dry Creek Joint Elementary Unified School District, Placer County

California Teachers of the Year 2016

"One thing i say to my musicians is, 'I don't care what kind of musician you are in 20 years. I car about what kind of person you are.' For now, music is simply the vehicle that can provide the values of: discipline, hard work, empathy, respect." -- Mitch Bahr, Foothill High School, Shasta Union High School District, Shasta County

"Be Awesome Today! is a sign that hangs over my desk. It ensures that today is the day that something new will be learned, a song will be sung, a laugh will be shared, a friend will be made, and a moment may occur that will be remembered long after this day has passed." -- Michelle Cherland, Carrillo Ranch Elementary School, Desert Sands Unified School District, Riverside County

"My best 12 minutes of the day occur each morning at 9:18 a.m. when my high schoolers take their broadcast live to a large audience. I stand back, stay out of their way, and watch 34 students work as a team." -- Doug Green, Valley Middle School, Carlsbad High School, Carlsbad Unified School District, San Diego County

"I am an educator that not only teaches for employment, but also for empowerment. I challenge my students to take risks as we share a classroom in which issues of race, class, sexual orientation, religion, gender, and political beliefs intersect and are thoroughly examined." -- Daniel Jocz, National Teacher of the Year Candidate, Downtown Magnets High School, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County

"We need to accelerate academic growth by encouraging the use of higher-order thinking skills in all students to prepare them to be innovative 21st century learners who work collaboratively to analyze situations and solve problems creatively." -- Ann Park, Greenleaf TK-I School, Oakland Unified School District, Alameda County

California Teachers of the Year 2015

Students are eager to get started every day. As one student exclaimed, "We're going to rock it today, aren't we, Mrs. Laughlin?' Her response? "Show off!" -- Amy Laughlin, Hansen School, Savanna School District, Orange County

"When a person comes into my classroom, he may see what some have deemed chaos. I believe this chaos is learning at its best. I am not the holder of all knowledge. I am a facilitator of learning for the 21st Century student." -- Maggie Mabery, National Teacher of the Year Candidate, Manhattan Beach Middle School, Manhattan beach Unified School District, Los Angeles County

"Go ahead. Dare. Dare to be different. Dare to be the first one. Dare to sound smart, to get caught doing something kind, to be respectful to adults, to help someone in need, to stand up to a bully." -- Lovelyn Marquesz-Prueher, Dodson Middle School, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County

"Teaching is not a career for the timid. The mental exhaustion involved is difficult to even quantify. In terms of personal accomplishment and contributions to society, again for me, nothing compares to a careen in teaching." -- Christopher O'Connor, St. Helena High School, St. Helena Unified School District, Napa County

"I am passionate about educating the whole child to ensure each child develops a positive attitude about education, and ability to direct their own learning, and an understanding of the skills and information needed to learn." -- Erin Rosselli, Panorama Elementary School, Orange Unified School District, Orange County

California Teachers of the Year 2014

"Failure is not an option, as many of our student are on life support academically." "My venture into teaching has been the most rewarding aspect of my life. I am a constant cheerleader of teaching. I'll bend anyone's ear as to why one should pursue this career." -- Angelo "Ang" Bracco, Solano Middle School, Vallejo City Unified School District, Solano County

"Our students understand that to make choir work, we all must give 100 percent. This is a team sport at its best. If anyone holds back, the choir suffers. When one succeeds, we all succeed." "Think back on your education and remember what teacher inspired you, made you want to learn, excited you about their subject, and taught you about life. My message to the teacher of America . . . be that teacher every day." -- Michael Hayden, Mira Costa High School, Manhattan Beach Unified School District, Los Angeles County

"Achieving the goal we set at his teacher-student conference, one young reader earned a ticket to my wildly popular year-end Reading Counts party. He smiled and said, 'My reading is on fire now, huh, Mrs. Horist?' My heart swelled with pride over his incredible progress." -- Linda Horist, Nohl Canyon Elementary School, Orange Unified School District, Orange County

"Students in my classroom are reading detectives, investigative reporters, budding historians, and movie producers. They are innovators who seek creative solutions, debaters who support their thinking with evidence, and authors of original content with the work via my professional blog, a classroom Vimeo channel, and our class Web site." "Enthusiasm is contagious; I've got boatloads, and so do my students. Learning, laughing, creating, and transforming together make it all worthwhile." -- Jessica Pack, James Workman Middle School, Palm Spring Unified School District, Riverside County

"I believe in the power of classroom observations by other teacher and by parents. I have observed very few classrooms in which I did not come away with a new idea for my own teaching. Also, parents often gain a profound appreciation for the teacher by observing them teach." "On a very personal level, the greatest accomplishments are hearing from students that because I cared enough about them, they wanted to succeed. Giving young people a chance to realize their dreams and live a full life will always be the force that drive me to teach." -- Timothy Smith, National Teacher of the Year Candidate, Florin High School, Elk Grove Unified School District, Sacramento County

California Teachers of the Year 2013

"What rewards do I get from teaching? That's easy: I laugh a lot. I learn each day. Each year, each term, each day, each class is new. Being a teacher does not make life easy, but it makes it worth living. I love it." -- Sebastein De Clerck, Ventura High School, Ventura Unified School District, Ventura County

"I do not see students as they are today, but as the person that they can become—I want my students to see possibilities, to overcome adversity and to become the best versions of themselves." -- David Goldenberg, Arnold O. Beckman High School, Tustin Unified School District, Orange County

"My parents' passion and dedication towards education sparked a fire inside me. I thought if education could do so much, maybe I should become a teacher." -- Veronica Marquez, Harmony Elementary School, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County

"Teaching from the heart, leading by example, and being open about my own shortcomings have been the most effective methods for me to help students choose a path of success." -- Martin Reisert, Oak Valley Middle School, Poway Unified School District, San Diego County

"A great wave of pride fills me when I tell people that I am a teacher. Teaching fuels me and gives my life purpose. Teaching is the manifestation of that 'something' I vowed to do on April 29, 1992." -- I'Asha Warfield, National Teacher of the Year Candidate, Frick Middle School, Oakland Unified School District, Alameda County

Questions: Awards Team | awards@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0842 

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Nate Bowling, a high school government teacher in Tacoma who was named the 2016 Washington state teacher of the year and a finalist for national teacher of the year, wrote a January blog post, “The Conversation I’m Tired of Not Having,” that quickly attracted nationwide attention.

In it Bowling said that, “America really doesn’t care what happens to poor people and most black people.” Saying many policy debates having little to do with the reality of teaching and learning, he stated: “If you ain't talking about the teacher in the classroom, I ain't listening.”

The post went viral, racking up hundreds of thousands of pageviews. It was reprinted in the Washington Post, Seattle Times, Hechinger Report, Huffington Post, and New York Observer. Among the piles of feedback: a disturbing letter from a racist lawyer that Bowling published on his blog.

In this exclusive interview with The 74, Bowling reveals how his famous post came about and explains the effect of race and racism on education policy, how to evaluate teachers, and how he uses his influence as state teacher of the year. The interview has been edited for clarity and length:

Bowling:I had gone to a convening of all the state and regional teachers of the year — and I had been to national conferences before, but something happened in my soul listening to people from all over the country who are facing the same issues. I was really struck by how many of the teachers who were state and regional teachers of the year work in high-poverty schools. It became apparent to me that the reason why there are so many teachers who work in high-poverty schools is because we have economic segregation.

Essentially, we’ve shunted off a large portion of our population, largely who look like me. The moment that put me over the edge: there was a lady from Montgomery County, Maryland, and she had been teaching for 17 years and never had a white student. That was the last straw for me. I was flying home and I was thinking about it and I wrote the post in like an hour and a half while I was flying.

People who are practicing teachers don’t talk policy and when they do, they don’t talk frankly.

Well, I guess that’s not true. There’s a very belligerent minority within the teaching profession who talk very frankly, but that’s often about adult rights issues and adult teacher issues and not about issues affecting kids. I think the frank nature of my post was a factor.

I think the fact that I had just recently been named a national teacher of the year finalist definitely played a role in it because some of the people who spread the word about it were people who were part of teachers of the year organizations. But I think often times people who are teachers of the year tread lightly, and that’s just not how I’m bred and wired.

I don’t — if I have a platform, I’m going to use it to be bold. That’s just how my brain works.

"There are some people who are die-hard advocates of ‘public education’ but that doesn’t seem to include actual students"

One thing I noticed in the reaction to the blog post was how it seemed to resonate with people on both “sides” — which I don’t like saying, but let’s just say it — of the education debate. I think that suggests that: One, there was something very universal to it, but two, maybe people were reading it the way they wanted to read it.

I think that’s very true. The article has two halves. This is the reality that we have, and my stand on where things are. And here’s where I’m putting my energy. I’m putting my energy into teacher quality.

There was some pushback. There were people who said I was teacher-blaming, which I don’t buy. There were some people who said that I was ignoring the role of poverty, which I don’t buy either.

You’re right, that there’s not a two-sided education debate; there’s a multiple-sided debate. I’m not an ideologue. I don’t have a lot of faith in the reform community because I think the reform community has a bunch of pre-fabricated solutions that they want to impose on systems. And I don’t have a lot of faith in some of the teacher advocacy voices, because a lot of the teacher advocacy voices are teacher advocates and not school advocates or student advocates. Like there are some people out there who are die-hard advocates of “public education” but that doesn’t seem to include actual students, and that really baffles me. That’s not my tribe and I don’t roll with that tribe.

I think one of the other reasons why people read the blog post the way they wanted to read it was because it didn’t lay out specific policy prescriptions. You said things that a lot of people could agree on, but people would strongly disagree on the means to get there. What are your thoughts on that point and on some of the actual policy levers to pull to get at the ends that you articulated in the piece?

One of the biggest problems with policy solutions is that we come up with policy solutions at a national level. But the policy solution where I live is different than the policy solution in St. Louis. A lot of people sent me the This American Life episode, “The Problem We All Live With,” about school segregation. And I’d heard it before. But what hit me about that episode in re-listening to it, is that I live in Tacoma, Washington, where we have five comprehensive high schools and three boutique high schools. My comprehensive high school is inside of a district that has pretty broad public support and the people in the affluent communities fund our levies, and so if my school was a single high school in a smaller, less affluent district, it would be in a much worse boat than it is. But it’s one of the schools in a larger, wealthier district, so we get our levy funding paid for.

I think about Missouri, which has 500 school districts. I really believe that if you show me a school district line, I’ll tell you a story of someone who didn’t want their kids going to school with someone else’s kid. Behind every district line is a story like that.

The reason I don’t propose solutions is that the reform community has been proposing national solutions for local problems for 12, 15 years. I didn’t want to contribute to that.

What I was saying was: “Here’s the conversation I want to have.” As teacher of the year, I have an advocacy voice, and I’m going to be talking about getting the best teachers in front of our neediest students. I don’t care about Common Core fights; they bore me. I don’t care about charter school fights; they turn people who should be advocates into enemies and I hate watching them happen.

That’s where I’m putting my focus, and that’s why I didn’t go into policy recommendations.

Let me push back on your description of the reform community. Yes, top-down solutions, national solutions to local problems aren’t ideal, but putting power in local hands doesn’t necessarily work either, for some of the reasons you talked about. Those line drawings that you mentioned were often local decisions, so perhaps we do need systems like No Child Left Behind, as imperfect as it was, to create accountability system that protect our most vulnerable students.

I don’t disagree with that. One of my concerns about ESSA was that a lot of people who are supposed to care about kids are celebrating the return of local control, but what does local control look like on the edge of an inner suburb? Or what does local control look like in rural Mississippi?

I agree. I think there’s a policy pendulum that swings to and fro. It always surprises me when liberals come out against national solutions to problems because the entire basis of liberalism, going back to the New Deal, has been national solutions. ESSA created these odd bedfellows that I found really fascinating. You had the unions and the Ted Cruzes of the world joined at the hip.

At the same time, the only thing that I’ve seen work is better teaching. I don’t care what standards a teacher is using. I don’t care what curriculum a teacher is using. A better teacher gets better results.

But the standards and the curriculum matter, right?

They do, they do. But that’s not my fight.

That’s something you and I briefly discussed on Twitter, which is that some people misinterpreted your blog post as saying, “No one should be talking about X, Y, and Z” where it was actually, “This is what I want to talk about, personally.” Is that right?

If I hadn’t pounded it out in an hour, on a plane flight, maybe some things would have been included. If I was writing it again, I might have said some things differently.

That was a very accurate representation of where my head was in the moment and where my heart is about the work that I need to do right now.

So you’re part of the teacher policy and advocacy group Teachers United. Are you optimistic about teachers leading the charge to improve education? And talk to me about your experience with Teachers United.

Teachers United was founded on the principle that teachers should have a third way that brings teacher voice into education policy at the policy formulation level and not at the “hey, do this” level. One of things that happens currently, in many locations, is that policies created on high by bureaucrats are imposed on practitioners with no input. Teachers United is trying to fight against that.

Where Teachers United got in trouble was we had our policy priorities, and members of the reform community had their policy priorities. I felt like there was an expectation from some members of the reform community that we be the teacher voice for their policies, rather than we be the teacher voice for the policies that we think are going to impact students. So that’s where I fell out of love with a lot of members of the reform community.

How was Teachers United received by the teachers’ union?

The union leadership has been very good to us. We haven’t had problems with them. There are some members of the union who have been less receptive and that’s not surprising.

Why not?

Our entire purpose as organization was to be a third way and being a third way, we were rejecting some of the labor mentality within the profession. I’m a supporter of my union. I love my union. I want to have due process and protections for my job but I don’t buy hook, line, and sinker every seniority-above-all policy that my union passes or supports.

To what extent do you think race, racism, and equity issues have been ignored in the education debate?

One of the things that annoys me the most is when I see flyer for a school that I know has like three black students — and some of the charter schools that I’ve seen are very guilty of this, and so are private schools — and they’re on the forefront of all their literature. We ignore the evidence that so many of the outcomes in K–12 have racial overtones. We ignore disproportionate discipline; we ignore disproportionate push-out of black educators. We ignore, we ignore, we ignore. A few too many people have bought the lie of post-racial America.

I’d argue as a nation we’re actually regressing on racial issues, not progressing.

It’s funny because I’ve been advised for much of my adult life to not be the black guy who talks about race because “the black guy who talks about race” becomes a marginalized figure. But that’s where my voice needs to be right now.

The reform solution to the equity issues is to say, “We need to have tougher accountability measures for teachers and schools that disproportionately serve kids of color. We need to give families of color more choice.” Do you think that’s an important part of a solution? Is it a distraction?

I would say this about school choice. If the K-12 system was meeting the needs of communities of color — particularly urban communities of color — then there wouldn’t be the school choice issue. The public school system has itself to blame for the charter and voucher movement. I’ve said, particularly to some of the strongest anti-charter people, if you have such strong feelings about charters, what are you doing to meet the needs and demands of communities of color? Because if you can meet the demands of communities of color, you take away a charter’s bread and butter. That’s one of those questions you never get a reply to. When you pose that, the response is, “Why are you making it about race?”

If you don’t believe in charter schools then why aren’t you doing everything you can to make our urban public schools places where families of color want to bring their students?

Let’s change gears to talk about teacher evaluation. If the focus is on getting excellent teachers in front of the kids who need it most, I would think that teacher evaluation is an essential part of that. Do you agree, and how would you think about designing a system?

What I would propose is a four-part system of teacher evaluation. One part is the observations by my evaluator, being my administrator or an outside evaluator — somebody who knows teaching. Part two would be observations by my peers. I would love to be able to give feedback on my peers, and have them give feedback on me. Part three is student perception surveys. Students sit through teaching every day; they know what good teaching and bad teaching looks like. My students tell me my colleagues who do a good job, my colleagues who do a bad job, and tell me when I don’t do well. They give me the best feedback possible. And part four: some measure of student growth — but I don’t think that a measure of student growth should exclusively be some state standardized tests, or particularly the ones we have.

You said to me in a previous conversation that you think there’s a role for a universal standardized assessment in the evaluation process, but you’re not a fan of the way it’s been implemented. I echo that. I think there’s a role for an outside, norm-setting feedback mechanism, but the ways in which it’s been done, I can’t cosign. So I think there needs to be a measure of student growth but I don’t think standardized tests are the only way to get to that.

Tell me more about why you think the current system, using standardized tests for evaluation, has not been successful. What’s wrong with it as is?

Today I’m teaching a class. I have a student, I’ll call him Allen. Allen works at Papa Murphy’s, a pizza restaurant. Allen is supporting his family working at Papa Murphy’s. If Allen doesn’t work at Papa Murphy’s, then Allen’s family would get evicted. Today I had to wake Allen up four times in class because he’s dead tired since he closed Papa Murphy’s last night. Is Allen’s performance on a given exam — based on the fact that he’s working eight hours a day after school until 1 o’clock in the morning — a reflection of my teaching?

That’s my issue. The context matters.

"I don’t know of any organization that became world- class by focusing on the bottom"

 

There has been a lot of talk that the evaluation systems have focused too much on ‘punishing teachers’ — you hear this phrase ‘test and punish’ — or that there’s just not enough support for teachers through the evaluation systems. What’s your experience been like?

It’s about implementation. It really depends on who is implementing the policy and their policy lenses. If I could zoom out to a bigger question about teacher quality: One of the things I keep thinking about is we have approached teacher quality all wrong. All of our conversations about teacher quality are, “How do we evaluate, punish, and push out the least effective teachers.” And there’s no conversation about how to keep and empower the most effective teachers.

When the Seattle Seahawks went seven and nine in 2011 and missed the playoffs for the third year in a row, they didn’t go and see who’s our ninth linebacker or who’s our 24th defensive back or what color uniform are our practice squads wearing. They went out and hired a new coach, Pete Carroll. Pete Carroll went out and got a quarterback, a running back, and a secondary. I don’t know of any organization that became world-class by focusing on the bottom.

Yeah, I think there are bad teachers and I don’t want bad teachers in my building. But the vast majority of the policy energy has gone towards focusing on bad teachers, and what has happened is that in the process you’ve made a lot of effective people miserable.

I do think there’s something of a paradox that in most places where you have these evaluation systems, still a tiny fraction of teachers are being rated ineffective. And even fewer teachers are being fired because of that. Here in New York I found that only one tenured teacher had been fired over the course of multiple years based on the evaluation system. Just one. It does seem that there is a perception that may not be based on reality. But the perception may be based on some real implementation challenges and some of the rhetoric.

Totally true, but the problem is that the public perception is the opposite, which is a leading contributor to the teacher shortage we have right now. In Washington state, if every person who’s in a teacher prep program right now got a job, we’d still have a shortage. The reality may be that only one or two people getting fired, but that’s not what the culture is saying and that’s not what the dominant discourse of the profession is. What’s happening is that the profession is being degraded and people who we need to be in classrooms are leaving the profession.

I do think that the perception is a two-way street though. There has been a lot of rhetoric about getting rid of bad teachers that has almost certainly been overheated. But there’s also been a lot of rhetoric from people who are skeptics of reform about how there’s this huge conspiracy to get rid of bad teachers or there’s a sense of mass firing or “test and punish,” which may not be a reflection of reality.

You will get no disagreement from me.

Let’s talk about your experience as teacher of the year in Washington. What’s that been like? Have you enjoyed it? What’s surprised you about it?

It’s been really funny to talk to other teachers of the year and just see how different the program is nationwide. I’m still in my classroom full time. You’re calling me on a classroom phone. I’m staring right now at a student who didn’t do her homework and I need to get her to do her homework.

I’m an advocate for my students, but I’m also my students’ teacher, and so every time I say yes to something, I’m saying no to my students. I’ve done some speaking engagements, but I probably turn down three to one. That’s limiting my ability to tell my students’ and my story, but my students are most important to me. It’s a delicate balance that I’m dealing with right now.

For example, I was out yesterday to go down to the Washington state legislature and I met with the House Republican and Democratic caucuses and was able to address them about education policy issues.

But that means I wasn’t in my classroom. What I try to do is use my classroom Twitter feed to bring my students into the work that I’m doing. I live Tweet my days when I’m out of the classroom. I posted on Twitter pictures of the capitol, etc. Still I basically am working a job and a half. For the moment it’s making the job I care most about harder, but at the same time it’s opening doors.

Many things that I’m saying are more refined versions of things I’ve been saying for five years. That’s one thing I’ve said to the legislature: You’ve had me up for this award but I and other teachers have been saying this for years. Don’t let this be a one-time thing. This needs to be an ongoing conversation.

How do the legislators receive you? Do they genuinely listen to you? Do they respect you?

Politicians are political. I stand before the Republican caucus, they clap when I’m finished, they ask a couple question, and then I leave. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Same thing with Democrats. It’s not a party thing. I try to make sure my message is really concrete and succinct. Right now my message is, “I don’t think you’re going to do the right thing, so if you’re not going to do the right thing, do this instead.”

By the right thing, you mean put more funding into schools, right?

The right thing is to create equalized funding in Washington state schools.

Which is required by the state supreme court, but they’re ignoring.

Exactly.

You go to rural Washington state, an agricultural community, and they’re only basically getting the local state allocation of funding, which for a starting teacher is $34,000. How are you going to hire somebody who’s qualified to teach high-level mathematics for $34,000? The answer is you’re not.

Teaching is not about the money, but come the hell on.

Teaching is not about the money but living is about money. And teachers have to live.

One thing that’s resonating with me right now is that people got into teaching knowing about the low pay, and low pay is something you can deal with. But low pay and not being treated like a professional is a bridge too far. That’s what’s happening right now. We’re not losing teachers because of the low pay; we’re losing teachers because they don’t feel like they’re being treated like professionals in their buildings or by their districts or by their states.

I hear that a lot in the debate, but I honestly don’t know what that means exactly.

There are some really terrible principals out there who are treating their teachers like crap.

I don’t have one. I love my principal, but when I go to meetings I hear stories. It varies widely. It’s about principal leadership and about how the principal is given the freedom or not given the freedom to implement policies and mandates. It can vary building to building. My principal hires well, supports us, and leaves us the hell alone. That doesn’t happen everywhere.

I don’t have my curricular choices mandated to me. I’m wearing a shirt right now that says “black nerds unite.” I’m doing that as a celebration of black scholarship. I can imagine working some other school where that’s controversial or problematic. My principal has no problem with that. He values me as a professional and supports me. But there are many people out there who aren’t in the same boat.

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