Boston Public
Chapter Thirty-Two

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Harvey's lost the fire

Auditorium. Some young, idealistic, irritating twit is giving a speech full of empty rhetoric about what teaching means to him. He finishes, everyone claps, and now it's Harvey's turn. "A colleague gave me the advice: speak from your heart. When it comes to teaching, my heart died a long time ago. When I started out, I had all the fire that last guy had. But somewhere along the way…today, I threaten and intimidate students because I lost the ability to reach them. I grade papers sometimes sight unseen, 'cause I don't have the time to read them. I've lost touch with the world our students live in. And I should quit, but I can't afford to. They should fire me, but they can't afford to. I stand before you living proof of the teacher shortage. I stink. And as I look out at my peers here today, I have no doubt: many of you stink. Our school system doesn't weed out the bad teachers. Huh. Lucky for us I guess. Nor does our system embrace the good teacher. Maybe that's the problem. Dedicated, impassioned young men and women are allowed simply to grow old and bitter. Or worse: uncaring. We need to find a way to keep the teachers' fire. To nurture the good ones. And there are so many good ones. I see some sitting out there who work with me. They still have it. They get up every day, and they charge. What does teaching mean to me? You're what teaching means to me. You care deeply, you're passionate, and you inspire. I used to." Awwww. Good speech, Harvey. So good that nobody claps. But in a good way, seriously.

Night. Ronnie's classroom. Mel-something comes in. "Social service people say I have to stay with a foster family for a while. Why couldn't you just leave us alone? We weren't hurting anyone. This was a family decision, 'cause we're a family…or, at least, we used to be. Now they're taking me away." Ronnie says that wasn't her intent, but honestly, what did she think would happen? Then Ronnie once again brings up the point that no one has adequately explained, still, which is: "You threw yourself down a flight of stairs!" Word! She obviously does not want this baby, no matter how often she insists otherwise. Still, she just yells, "They're taking me away!" And runs out, in tears. Luckily, Harry materializes in the other doorway, having listened to everything. No, I'm not kidding; seriously, there he is. No, really. Ronnie sees him, and says, "I shouldn't have called social services." Harry says she did the right thing, but she's all, "I'm not a social worker, I have no training." Um, which is why you called social services, right? "Which is why you called social services," says Harry. "But they're so Draconian! I mean, yank the child, ask questions later? What have I done?" Harry sits by her, and The Strings Of Past Experience begin to play: "Look, it's very dangerous to get involved in family matters. In most cases it's best to steer clear. But, in this case, you had no choice. You didn't." Ronnie's all, "Tell me again how people survive this job?" But he doesn't say anything, because the scene is over.

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Boston Public

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