Schutze

Hurrah for a Hero at DISD

May I offer one more word about Joseph Drake, the Dallas teacher put on suspension last week after sending an argumentative email to school board member Edwin ("Snidely Whiplash") Flores?

Fourth-grade teacher Joseph Drake, who told Flores that his depiction of teachers as lazy slug-a-beds was demeaning, has now been reinstated. But before he shuffles off this immoral stage we call "media attention," I want to extend one last word -- more about him than to him.

Hero.

You're a hero, buddy. You stepped up. You gave voice to the anger and pain of thousands of teachers who were wincing under Flores's snide lash.

Your message was plain and true: How dare some rich lawyer serving on the school board to enhance his own professional profile imply, as Flores did in a debate over teacher workdays, that teachers don't do enough?

Some anonymous blog commenters suggested your mistake was calling Flores "greedy" in a private communication to him and reminding him how much real estate he owns. Other commenters derided you, as a father of six living on 55 grand a year, for having too many kids instead of making more money.

So, listen. I have one word for a guy who has lots of kids, doesn't think enough about money and devotes his life to a government job serving others.

Hero.

That's what I would call you if I were a school board member. You have heart. Heedless heart. Heart bigger than self-caring. Heart that outweighs caution.

Men and women like you are the people who pull the wagon. It's not the moneymakers. (Although, I'm sure you would admit that some moneymakers have big hearts too.) What counts is the heart.

Your heart gives you the courage to go into every chaotic crazy unstructured day full of wacko kids and sweet kids and criminal kids and hungry kids and brilliant kids and drug-addicted parents and devoted parents who would die for their kids and just do what you can do. Again. Like yesterday. Like tomorrow.

You have brothers and sisters in all the people who choose your kind of life, who choose to be cops and emergency room docs and firemen and public defenders and code inspectors and preachers and parks department employees -- all the people who give much more than they take.

There's a downside. In your position it's hard to go to the line and speak truth to power. The Snidelys have got you pinned down -- pinned down by money, pinned down by fear, by their sheer political weight. They have the power, with the click of a mouse, to ban you from your classroom and send you home like some dirty child molester, because you dared to piss them off.

So I have a word for the man or woman who does it anyway, who says to himself or herself, "Damn it, this is America. I'm sick of their Snidely Whiplash crap, and I'm not going to take it anymore."

Hero.

Have a good day, every little chance you get.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze