The excellent education writer Dana Goldstein wrote a review of a new book about a journalist who spent time at John H. Reagan High School in Austin, Texas — a “failing” school.
The book is called Saving the School: The True Story of a Principal, a Teacher, a Coach, a Bunch of Kids and a Year in the Crosshairs of Education Reform by Michael Brick:
One of the people featured in the book is Candice, a Chemistry teacher who is one of the “stars” at the school. But this is where Goldstein’s review had me raising an eyebrow:
Reagan’s star chemistry teacher, a young, born-again Christian named Candice, doesn’t hesitate to proselytize to her public-school students. This would be more disturbing if Candice weren’t so obviously a force of tremendous good in her students’ lives, taking them out for coffee and leading them in a Bible study group that is really more like a therapy session for kids growing up tough — often with absentee fathers, drug-addicted family members, and way too little money. Candice’s life changed when she visited Africa on a volunteer mission, so she raises money for a few of her students, most of whom have never left Texas, to take the same kind of trip over their summer break.
My first thought: What?! She can’t do that! We must stop her!
Then: But she’s a really good force in these kids’ lives!
Then: That’s irrelevant! She’s still abusing her power!
Then: But these kids need more strong adults in their lives! Stop missing the big picture!
This goes on for a while. I can’t figure out if I’m thankful she cares about these children as much as she does or if I’m blinded by my atheism that I would be willing to push aside all the good she’s doing because she’s clearly breaking the law.