BY RAELLE MYRICK-HODGES, DIRECTOR
It is very easy to “discuss” the complexity of America’s public school system as an outsider. It makes for great intellectual conversation. But we don’t discuss the stress on students and teachers and parents enveloped by this system.
I went to public school. And, I come from a family of school teachers (the job that black women with college degrees could get during segregation). I have been given the textbook that didn’t have a front cover, yet at the end of the year, I was expected to pay $75 for the “evident damage” while it was in my possession. I had a grade school teacher so bigoted that she took to calling me “Black Nina” to separate me from the other two girls in my class named Nina. (That is when I started calling myself Raelle—my middle name—because “Black Nina” seemed so uncomfortable). I watched a public high school math teacher have a nervous breakdown in front to a classroom.
And I hated being in school because of the system I endured. “School” never rubbed off on me, because I always felt that my teachers--none of whom were teachers of color—made extensive assumptions about my capacity and my family history.
They were too overwhelmed to be diligent in the necessary care needed to educate young people. School is the big scorecard of the privilege line in this country. And those of us subjected to the subtle economic bias, ethnic bigotry, and emotional exhaustion of its teachers—well, it left me little to take from this system aside from its need to be overhauled.
I would not have made it out of school without the tenacity of an extremely well-educated mother who had the time—with support of her family—to focus my studies. So, I dedicate this production to all the parents, students, and teachers who endure the complexity of public education. And to my high school teacher Mrs. Mittleburger, who spent her own money on supplies, created the drama program for my school, and never missed a day of trying to make great adults from little humans.
The IRT invites you to come see Pipeline and join the conversation. Tickets available here.
The IRT produces top-quality, professional theatre that engages, surprises, challenges and entertains people throughout their lifetimes, helping to build a vital and vibrant community.
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