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Mon Oct 1, 2012, 10:38 PM

That high school Obama spoke at Sunday night?

That high school Obama spoke at Sunday night? I wanted to tell y’all a few things about it, things that I know for a fact, because I taught there for many years.

The school is 95% minority, largely free and reduced lunch, and about 15-20 percent of students are illegal. More accurately, their parents are illegal and took the students into this country. Some of the illegal nationalities I encountered over the year: Mexican (the stereotype). Guatemalan, Honduran, Salvadoran. Chilean, Peruvian, Colombian. Thai, Cambodian, Filipino, Laotian. Irish, English, Romanian, Greek, Russian, Turkish. Canadian. For various reasons, going “back home” is either impossible or just a very bad idea. I have had students with a 4.6 GPA, weighted with AP and honors classes, taken to the US at the ripe old age of one month, who do not speak any language other than English and cannot get a student loan – students that, had they been born here, would be a senator or president some day.

I have had students that have won awards and scholarships that would make them the envy of anyone here, and students who have gone to colleges that are the envy of the world. Stanford, Harvard, Oxford – the kind of school that means parent can die happy.

On virtually every day, the school lunch is cheese pizza, tater tots, and a fruit pie. That fulfills the FDA requirements. As the most underfunded district in the nation (for years we could say “At least we aren’t Mississippi!”), by law the only place we are allowed to profit from students is school lunch. We charge the federal government something like eighty cents for a lunch that costs us twenty-five. Walking in the door at lunchtime would kill poor Michelle.

In a given year, about 15% of the girls will get pregnant and carry a baby to full term. Even so, abortions are very common. The school district in Las Vegas is made up of seven Mormon housewives, elected largely because people assume that women will somehow be better for schools, as if the presence of ovaries automatically blesses someone with simple common sense (and no, I’m not one of those MRA assholes). As a result, the District’s sex education policies are set by a selected subcommittee made up of six other Mormons, even more conservative than those democratically elected. In the 90s, the board refused to allow Schindler’s List to be seen by high school seniors with parental permission, and still refuse to allow us to even show clips of a PG-13 movie shown to any student for any reason (I promise you, Shakespeare was meant to be seen, not read).

As a result, I have allowed students to bring their own children into the classroom. I have personally bottle-fed and changed a diaper while I was teaching a classroom of 30-50 other students how to read; I don’t want any teenage mother to use their baby as an excuse to not graduate. One coworker went to a student’s house to get said student to take the high-stakes test. That employee ended up administering the proficiency exam while the student was in labor, then taking the student to the hospital to give birth. The mother of the student wasn’t a bad parent, but she had other kids, too, and if she’d left work she would have been fired. When one of my students gave birth, which was fairly often, I never missed an opportunity to go to their home and give them their make-up work. More than once I stayed and helped with a newborn while I also helped with homework. One of my favorite teaching-memories is hanging out with a girl while bottle-feeding that girl’s baby, discussing some of the intricacies of All Quiet on the Western Front, while my daughter and her youngest sister played Barbies on the kitchen floor.

That number above was not a typo. I have spent an entrire school year with a fifty-minute period of fifty-five students, all of whom were below grade-level, and attempted to teach them how to read.

I have separated Bloods from Crips. I have confiscated weed pipes, crack pipes, meth pipes, syringes, and god-only-knows how many pills. I have assisted the police in taking a gun away from a student. I have taken knives away from students. Once, I was told to take the student back to class because I had not followed the proper disciplinary procedures; I had not assigned detention and called his parents before he pulled a knife on another student.

I have fed a dozen students a day. I have provided beds and other furniture for their homes. I have been to many of their homes, and turned down the crack and/or meth that was offered me (heroin people apparently don’t like to share).

One of these kids lived with a meth addicted uncle because living with a cocaine addicted father was worse. He had his daughter at thirteen. He is literally the only students I tried hard to not join the military, because his life was so hard (I’m not including the details) that Afghanistan was literally a better option than life after graduation – and by god I made sure he took every extra class he needed to graduate. Years later, and actually in Afghanistan and getting shot at, he still Skypes with my wife once every week or two to let us know that he’s alive and he’s bored. He wants to be a teacher when he gets out. I love him like he was my son.

I can show you the places in the school where the bullet holes have been painted up. At one time that school was known as “Drive-By High.” Once, one of my freshman once shot another freshman in the foot, on the last shot of a fourteen round clip. He was a good kid, except he was short and got picked on because of it. A former student stabbed another former student for no apparent reason, and the bleeding man managed to stagger back onto campus before he died. Most of the teachers I know have been to student funerals, but I seem to have been to far more of them.

One of the big newspapers did an article last year on the worst zip codes in America: the residents of two of the top twenty worst zip codes send their children to the school Obama spoke at last night.
I’m not going to talk about Arne Duncan here; it would get me, after eleven years, banned at DU.
That having been said: in a few days I will be voting to re-elect President Obama. Though I don’t always agree with him 100%, he is the best choice for this nation. I hope you will get out the vote.

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Arrow 55 replies Author Time Post
Reply That high school Obama spoke at Sunday night? (Original post)
Nevernose Oct 2012 OP
redwitch Oct 2012 #1
Nevernose Oct 2012 #3
grantcart Oct 2012 #2
Nevernose Oct 2012 #5
grantcart Oct 2012 #13
lunasun Oct 2012 #4
Nevernose Oct 2012 #7
lunasun Oct 2012 #22
Nevernose Oct 2012 #51
nolabear Oct 2012 #6
msedano Oct 2012 #8
Fumesucker Oct 2012 #12
nolabear Oct 2012 #16
defacto7 Oct 2012 #9
Nevernose Oct 2012 #52
geckosfeet Oct 2012 #10
B Calm Oct 2012 #11
flygal Oct 2012 #14
longship Oct 2012 #15
gkhouston Oct 2012 #20
trailmonkee Oct 2012 #17
femrap Oct 2012 #18
LuckyLib Oct 2012 #33
Iwillnevergiveup Oct 2012 #19
NBachers Oct 2012 #21
beac Oct 2012 #23
lunatica Oct 2012 #24
DhhD Oct 2012 #25
GoneOffShore Oct 2012 #26
Odin2005 Oct 2012 #27
joanbarnes Oct 2012 #28
renate Oct 2012 #29
TrogL Oct 2012 #30
annabanana Oct 2012 #31
cpamomfromtexas Oct 2012 #32
LittleGirl Oct 2012 #34
Nevernose Oct 2012 #50
WinkyDink Oct 2012 #35
pitbullgirl1965 Oct 2012 #45
JDPriestly Oct 2012 #36
maddiemom Oct 2012 #37
Nevernose Oct 2012 #49
maddiemom Oct 2012 #53
maddiemom Oct 2012 #55
Doctor_J Oct 2012 #38
Barack_America Oct 2012 #39
lupinella Oct 2012 #40
Rider3 Oct 2012 #41
toby jo Oct 2012 #42
DollarBillHines Oct 2012 #43
Scurrilous Oct 2012 #44
B Stieg Oct 2012 #46
freshwest Oct 2012 #47
skeewee08 Oct 2012 #48
AverageJoe90 Oct 2012 #54

Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 10:42 PM

1. Thank you for your service.

I don't know what else to say except thank you.

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Response to redwitch (Reply #1)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 10:49 PM

3. I appreciate the thanks

I don't hear it very often. Please, get out the vote!

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 10:43 PM

2. Thanks for your service and your OP.

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Response to grantcart (Reply #2)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 10:56 PM

5. People read the President was in Las Vegas

It's left out that, of the forty or fifty high school he coul have spoken at, he and his campign chose Drive-By High. That really mean something to me.

Today, in response, Romney's Stepford Wife spoke at one of the richest schools in town. Who am I supposed ot believe stands for one of my students, or someone who grew up in a shitty neighborhood like I did? It sure as hell ain't Romney.

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Response to Nevernose (Reply #5)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 11:39 PM

13. Sometimes the Medium is the Message and sometimes its where they plant the podium.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 10:55 PM

4. You have done so much above and beyond . Inspired many to succeed

when without they could have fallen in the cracks.
This parent from Illinois sez dont start on Anre Duncan it's late in the night and just his name wants to make my head explode

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Response to lunasun (Reply #4)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 11:04 PM

7. I think of Obama and Arne like I think of my father

Most of the time my dad's one of the most amazing, talented people you will ever meet, not to mention he was one of the only registered communists in East Texas. However, he could also, occasionally, be a total asshole, largely because of the raging alcholism. Arne Duncan, IMHO, is just a symptom of Obama meaning well but not knowing any better. Much like my father. Remind me to call him tomorrow and tell him how much I love him, okay (my father, not the President)?

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Response to Nevernose (Reply #7)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 08:38 AM

22. dont forget to call today!!

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Response to lunasun (Reply #22)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 09:47 PM

51. Shit!

I forgot to call.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 10:57 PM

6. That was a tragic and remarkable post. Thank you for all you do.

Sometimes teachers like you are all that stands between a ghost of a chance and no chance at all, and there's not enough pay in the world to make anyone take on a job like yours. It's got to be that crazy love that only a teacher can feel for a student. I hope you have a long, healthy, wonderful life. You deserve it.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 11:23 PM

8. such a dehumanizing term

"illegal".

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Response to msedano (Reply #8)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 11:34 PM

12. See if you can write an OP that long and that heartfelt without offending someone..

I think the OP is brilliant, an unfortunate choice of words you picked up on but it clearly wasn't meant to be derogatory, just descriptive.

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Response to msedano (Reply #8)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 12:46 AM

16. THAT was your takeaway??

Jesus wept.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 11:26 PM

9. If it was my choice and ability,

I would double your salary. You deserve it. The future rests on the shoulders of the teachers of America, not the media, not computers, not the church and certainly not the corporate machine. It's hands on, in your face, face to face, no fear, on the line... TEACHERS!

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Response to defacto7 (Reply #9)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 09:51 PM

52. Thanks

I like to think that "hands on..no fear" describes me fairly well. That's how real education happens: not in comfortable chunks to willing recipients, but through effort (Thanks, Mr. Vygotsky!).

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 11:27 PM

10. Thanks for the great post. And for all you do.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Mon Oct 1, 2012, 11:28 PM

11. Must Read! K&R

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 12:09 AM

14. wow

Thank you for writing that. And thank you for all you do.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 12:42 AM

15. Wow! Thanks for this.

Last edited Tue Oct 2, 2012, 01:19 AM - Edit history (1)

Send it to the President.

He probably already knows; he went to that school for a reason, after all. But he might like to read your story. I would like to believe that, at least.

Thx agn.

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Response to longship (Reply #15)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 01:07 AM

20. +1000. n/t

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 12:47 AM

17. thank you

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 12:48 AM

18. ...

 

Last edited Tue Oct 2, 2012, 06:41 PM - Edit history (2)

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Response to femrap (Reply #18)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 12:37 PM

33. Not a generation -- decades. Poor African American and Latino kids have

been falling through the cracks since the 30's. They're just more visible nationally now, since NCLB. To those of us working in this field, it's an all-too-common story of a nation that has turned it's back on poor working class folks.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 12:50 AM

19. Rec #58

Your OP totally spoke to me, and I thank you for your courage and perserverance in carrying out all the unwritten parts in the job description of "TEACHER." Our profession has truly become both high stakes and high stress in and of itself. The powerful forces that seek to privatize and profit from education only serve to wreck more young lives.

I especially appreciate your hitting on the huge problem of pregnant minors. I've worked with my share of these young people, and it is truly sobering and heartbreaking to see the generational hardship and despair that too often result.

The statistics on poverty, particularly childhood poverty are once again off the charts - last I heard was 20%. This seriously, seriously needs to be addressed.

Let's hope that Barack's second term will implement some sorely needed, overdue policies that benefit the least among us.

Thanks again for sharing your experiences...deeply moving.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 01:19 AM

21. This is very powerful. Thank you for writing it. I sure wish the President could read it.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 08:47 AM

23. Thank you for this and for all you do for those kids.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 09:01 AM

24. Your devotion in the face of what you experience daily is amazing

I think you may be one of those teachers who influence students profoundly. Especially the ones who get the opportunity to get the education that breaks the cycle of poverty thanks to you. You deserve much more than a thank you.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 11:52 AM

25. Thank you President Obama for giving care to the children of our nation.

Last edited Tue Oct 2, 2012, 09:42 PM - Edit history (1)

Back in the mid to late 1980s, many people from Central America (as well as people from Mexico) were coming to America as refuges during the civil wars in Central America. This war was aided by the Reagan Administration. These people were taken to INS-Immigration and Nationalization Service Offices. They were detained on the grounds but literally thousands were streaming northward because the INS could not keep up with the HUGE need of Human Services (food, sanitized lodging, etc.). The Reagan Administration finally made the decision to release these refugees. Yes, to allow them to go into the US and hope that they would seek citizenship in the correct way by going an INS office near where they settled; in the same work area. This meant that an employer would need to help them get a green card. Conservative government gave amnesty if the correct paper work was submitted to an INS Office. Did all employers see that their worker (especially those that spoke Spanish only) were helped through the nationalization process? Federal Public Law says that persons who are here without citizenship, are to be sponsored. The Spirit of the Law says that same right should be given to children. Way to go President Obama for your Executive Order giving persons the right to become nationalized citizens.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 11:53 AM

26. Very nice - though it would be better if you substituted "undocumented" for "illegal".

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 11:57 AM

27. K&R

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 12:00 PM

28. Wow, though painful to read (and write), thanks for sharing your insight.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 12:00 PM

29. that was amazing

You are a hero, and not just to your students.

This should be published somewhere. It's fantastic.

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, and for everything that you do for those kids who need you more than most of us could ever imagine.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 12:06 PM

30. Geez and I thought I had it bad

One of my biggest problems was my tuba player kept ending up in jail for stealing cars.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 12:18 PM

31. America really does not KNOW America, does it?. . . .n/t

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 12:25 PM

32. Talk about inspiring!

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 12:53 PM

34. Brilliant post. Thanks for sharing

I wish you could send this to the President. He needs to read this. Bravo.

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Response to LittleGirl (Reply #34)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 09:45 PM

50. That's the one of the few things I dislike about him

He can't possibly know everything about every subject. However, he chose Arne Duncan over Diane Ravitch. If he had, he would have a radically different view of education.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 12:56 PM

35. THIS is why "local control"---AKA, local property taxes---is the BANE of US public education. Birth-

place should not matter, as far as educating our youngest citizens.

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Response to WinkyDink (Reply #35)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 07:49 PM

45. I agree X 1000

Property taxes funding is classism at its' worst.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 01:13 PM

36. You and your colleagues are the real heroes in America.

If anyone is building this country, it's you, not our fat-dollared business vultures like Romney.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 01:20 PM

37. Clark County? Some years back, returning to teaching after raising a family, they interviewed me;

were interviewing nation-wide. Some of the administrators were originally from the PA area. They seemed very anxious to hire experienced teachers, but said not to send in the application if not willing to move. Frankly, they sounded like a great deal, but I really didn't care for the LV area, or the southwest in general except to visit. I didn'tapply, but was tempted except for location.

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Response to maddiemom (Reply #37)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 09:43 PM

49. It's a great town IF

It's a great town IF you're prepared for it, and most people aren't. If you enjoy public services, keep going. We're low on library space per capita, parks per capita, police per capita, and most of the other bad lists. Three of the nation's top twenty most dangerous zip codes are here in town (all of which I live and/or work in). Second to Baltimore in murder rate, but Nevada is number one per capita as a state (at least the last time I checked). We're dead last in school spending, although -- despite what you may read -- having a pretty good public school system. Fairly liberal Clark and Washoe counties, hamstrung in the legislature by the rural counties -- one of which is the same size as Massachusetts, and only has 500 residents (400 miners and 100 hookers). Las Vegas, at least for a while, was the meth capitol of America, and still ranks extremely high on drug use. Nevada leads the nation in teen pregnancy, teen smoking, and high school drop outs. Lowest per capita in bachelor's degrees. What do the 9/11 bombres and the OK City bombers and the Manson Family have in common? Las Vegas (and a lot more killers, too).

Last year we were the only district out of the nation's largest ten that made AYP. A bullshit test, but at least we passed it. This desert, once you get outside the city, is the most amazing place on Earth. In a six hour drive, there's the Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Zion, Cedar Breaks, Sequoia, Death Valley, Great Basin.

This is a place filled with schemers and dreamers, junkies and whores, get-rich-quick lunatics and fly-by-night con men. There is no support system for the failures, and no sympathy. This is a cruel, vicious, heartless city, founded on vice and run by corruption.

And I love it here -- and try and make it a better place.

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Response to Nevernose (Reply #49)

Fri Oct 5, 2012, 11:40 PM

53. With some delay, I appreciate your reply.

I've only been to Las Vegas twice and enjoyed both times. My preference for full time living is around the ocean, though I only spent a couple of years full time and college summers there. Next I prefer mountains and a lot of greenery, which I've had living in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. The desert is beautiful, I agree. No offense, I'm just grateful to have experienced living in different areas in the East, and wish I'd had the chance (now a senior citizen not able to travel as much as I'd like) to spend time actually living in more areas of the country. As a resident, even if only a few years, you can truly appreciate new areas (or not, sadly for those for those not open to new experiences).

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Response to Nevernose (Reply #49)


Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 01:54 PM

38. You should post this at HuPo or some other blog site

It's well-written and timely. K/R

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 02:01 PM

39. My God, how lucky we are to have teachers like you. nt

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 04:39 PM

40. K&R Thank you,

for what you do, how you do it & the ability to keep doing it.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 05:18 PM

41. Amazing post

You're a hero to these students!

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 05:41 PM

42. nevernose - great job. This is what makes me proud to be democrat - Obama's people have to set up

 

up somewhere & they go there. Romney's people dismiss scenes like this literally and figuratively. We're people who 'don't make money' or 'don't behave right', or 'don't give a damn' etc. Guy never sees us.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 06:10 PM

43. Teachers have always been my heroes.

Although I had no formal education as a child, I have witnessed a lot of school activity thru my sons (now quite grown).

The average person has no idea what teachers go through on a daily basis.
DBH

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 07:00 PM

44. K & R

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 08:48 PM

46. As a fellow teacher, thank you for your work

Don't be surprised if one of these kids does end up as President. You've helped keep that chance alive.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 08:58 PM

47. You are a life saver. I've met several public school teachers and staff who I rate that way.

Their continuing on the face of all the odds, the abuse, the disenheartening facts of life, deserve our gratitude. I cannot express how much they have done to hold communities together and give their students a chance when society discarded them. Thanks for what you do.

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2012, 10:35 PM

48. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

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Response to Nevernose (Original post)

Sat Oct 6, 2012, 02:26 AM

54. Thanks for all you've done.

Fellows like you, make America a better place.

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