A couple weeks ago I posted a video of a statement I delivered at the City Club of Chicago. The post was titled “A Love Letter to Chicago’s Teachers.” Yesterday, a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teacher sent me a response to that post. The teacher did not leave a name. Her writing extended the “love letter” metaphor to places I never imagined. Despite my perceived public persona I am shy to my core; so I felt awkward and somewhat uncomfortable reading the parts of the letter that applied to me and my actions. However, the section in which the teacher applied the metaphor to her relationship to Chicago Public Schools is powerful. She writes, “He (CPS) is abusive. He constantly threatens to quit me. He reminds me annually that I can be easily replaced by someone younger, cheaper and less experienced.”
That section is so brutally candid, direct, and insightful that I felt it was worth posting as its own blog entry. The letter is as follows:
My Dearest Troy,
I’ve been reading and listening to your love letter over and over the last few weeks. Your passion is contagious. Your sweet words, hard and true, light the darkness in my heart; the light I had forgotten. Although, your words I hold dear to my heart…I cannot leave my man (CPS). He provides for me…without him…I don’t know how I would be able to feed my kids. Yes, he is abusive…He constantly threatens to quit me. He reminds me annually that I can be easily replaced by someone younger, cheaper and less experienced. He doesn’t respect me…in fact he constantly belittles me with tests that constantly change and evaluations that are subjective and punitive…as if I haven’t proven that I am worthy or good enough despite the years that I have sacrificed for our relationship. He sends people to check up on me in hopes of catching me doing wrong.
He seems to forget, I committed to this because of my love for him and our children, despite the fact that I’m living paycheck to paycheck, constantly belittled and disrespected. I even found receipts in his pocket for millions. He can’t vouch for where the money went and my heart is saddened as he claims he has no money for me and the kids, but he continues to spend money that he cannot explain. The lipstick on his collar…the Supes rendezvous crushes me and the money and support he gives to his charters…his mistresses…drain me and starves our kids of resources they deserve.
The truth is Troy, I dream about your words …. I hope that those words will help me make it through…until all these wrongs are righted. I want to have faith in my man…but I think it’s too late for him. He is constantly breaking my spirit, killing me softly with each word…each mandate…each new Barbara, Forrest, Jean Claude. And so, I must move on Troy. I hear you … and I’m with you….but I’m not ready to leave just yet. Check back in a few months. I’m preparing…calculating for the right time…to show him…I will not be belittled, put down, and threatened. I will not be ignored. Just a matter of time….and I hope that change will come…but in the meantime know that your fight and your love…keeps me going in the end.
Thank you for the letter.
A CPS Teacher