Two Teachers :: Transcript 1

Joffer Smith speaking at a DOE meeting, October 25, 2011 (at 51:30 on video)

• Good evening. My name is Joffer. I was trained as an ESL teacher through my experiences working abroad. Later, I was accepted into the New York Teaching Fellows as an ESL teacher. I was dispatched to a school in Harlem that is all students of color. I was the only ESL teacher of color in the school. I worked very closely with my colleagues there to build a very successful program which enjoyed a steady increase of ELL [?] students testing out of the ESL program. I also spent many hours making home visits and fielding phone calls from my parents and community leaders there in Harlem. My ESL colleagues oriented me into the movement of what unionism is all about. I transferred that information over into my students. And we enjoyed a lot of success in bringing the idea and the reality of what building a community of learners is all about. As a result, in June of this year, I received the news that I would be discontinued in my school and turned away from the school that I called home for three years. As a result my name has been smeared throughout the DOE and I was refused hiring at another DOE school in this city.

• I have learned that our friends are ourselves. I appreciate gatherings such as this and all of the Occupy movements that are going on worldwide. It’s going on in the large cities and the small towns and this is something that we should all expose everyone we know to. I appreciate everything that was said tonight and this is a testament to those people who are not here — that those people who have called themselves the leadership and the drivers of policy in this city and those like it that they are cowards; they know nothing about education and they should be sitting nowhere near our children, our classrooms, and our blackboards, and neither on the seats of government in our town. Thank you very much.