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I began six weeks of training with the New York City Teaching Fellows that promised to prepare me to teach "at risk" students middle school English.
Fifty percent of white students attending New York City public schools are concentrated in 7 percent of the schools.
Statewide, African-American and Latino students typically attend schools where 70 percent of the students are low-income, whereas white students typically attend schools where 30 percent of the students are low-income.
" I began to see the glaring paradox firsthand: Though I was the least qualified, I was only viable at the schools with the most needy students.
I eventually got hired at M 301, a high-poverty, segregated middle school on the Lower East Side.
I spent one class period tending to a student who wrote an essay about her father killing himself with a knife in her presence, another with a student who wrote about her family's recent move to a shelter where the showers didn't work.
As story after story poured out, I naively hoped that the number of tragedies would be finite.
At first I raised funds to buy my students dictionaries and books, and later classroom laptops.
But these wins were far from sufficient to overcome the deeper challenges my students faced.
Bad as this appears from the outside, on the inside it's even worse. And policies push schools to make it more separate.
I've spent 22 of my 30 years in the New York City public school system.