We spent five months at Harper High School in Chicago, where last year alone 29 current and recent students were shot. 29. We went to get a sense of what it means to live in the midst of all this gun violence, how teens and adults navigate a world of funerals and Homecoming dances.The high school where I taught in LA wasn't that bad -- or maybe it was if anyone was counting, all I know is it wasn't unusual for people to be taken out in ambulances and sometimes kids came back from Christmas answering "how was your break?" with "I got stabbed."
I shouldn't have been skeptical -- they got full access, people opened up, it was so familiar it was eerie. The broadcast came out in February 2013. I listened to part one and then I couldn't. I finally listened to part two last week, more than a year and a half later.
Last week I also flipped off someone in a car, yelled at a stranger, and bust out crying for a not good enough reason. (I guess now's a good time to say I did not do any of those things at work). I know myself well enough to know that's not entirely a coincidence.
If you don't understand why teaching in LA broke my heart and spirit into a million pieces, or if you'd like to get a better picture of what goes on in many American schools and the struggling neighborhoods that surround them, then take a listen. Don't read the transcript, it's not the same.
So I swear I will get to The Wire soon. I know, I know, it's great television. But I'm sorry if it takes me a while to get through season 4 and I yell at a few deserving strangers in the process.