A couple days ago, I saw a story in the New York Times about Thomas Porton, a renowned high school teacher at the Monroe Academy in the South Bronx. I had met Porton when I was working on my “Good Kids” project at the the school. I didn’t interact with him much, but I heard a lot about him and saw some of the results of his work. He had been there forever and had carved out his own little kingdom, mostly independent of the numerous principals and assistant principals that had passed through over the course of his career. From the NYT article, it sounds like that was responsible for his eventual downfall. The principal who was there when I was photographing had a great deal of respect and appreciation for him, but I sensed the assistant principal and a few of the newer teachers resented him, and what he was able to accomplish with the students.
Anyway, it’s another sad example of how difficult it is for someone who is dedicated and does a job well to prosper in a corrupt system; and of a school where kids come, at best, a distant second to the fragile egos of careerist bureaucrats.