In a moving post, TMAO, a junior high teacher in California, reflects on hearing that a former student of his is in jail after a stabbing incident. The news has hit him hard since he had watched this particular student go from resistance and failure to academic success in his class. Now his faith in the power of education is shaken:
We failed this kid. We have enjoyed unprecedented success on my campus, and made great strides, but we failed this kid. Not in the way that speaks of falling through the cracks, or being allowed to not-learn. Somehow we failed him in a way that makes everything we do seem paltry and frail. He met our expectations, or enough of them that pretty much no one would stand up and say we gotta be doing more, we can't lose this kid. But we did. He took what we offered, owned it, and it wasn't enough. It wasn't enough. Somewhere people are arguing about benefits packages and school choice and facilities agreements and yard duty, and at the fundamental level, it wasn't enough. It wasn't enough.
It’s interesting how something can be both disheartening and inspiring at the same time. (Come to think of it, perhaps that’s a lot like teaching in general.) In any case, we think it’s safe to say that, based on this, TMAO hasn’t failed anyone.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.