Stories from Schools



Today I worked in a school in one of our nation’s most under-served inner cities. The building was built like a fort; there were only a few tiny slivers of windows, as natural light is less important than safety. In this school, only seventeen percent of students are proficient in reading and only eight percent are proficient in math. Proficient on a test that was designed for them to fail; proficient on a test taken on a device they don’t know how to use and in a language that half of them do not speak. This school lost over a quarter million dollars of funding last year.

As I walked out at the end of the day, I passed by one of the tiny slivers of window in a stairwell. There, wired to the bars with paper clips, were twenty little plastic cups filled with dirt. Pressed into each by a tiny finger, there was a seed. Most of them were sprouting, leaning towards the barred light, shaking off the soil.

This is what public school teachers do every day. They take what they are given, in an imperfect space, in an imperfect situation, and they say: grow.