Firing your best teacher?
David Lee, an inmate serving time for assault, who earned a General Educational Development diploma with one of the highest scores ever at Rikers, said no teacher worked harder. Mr. Kaufman made special arrangements for Mr. Lee to take college correspondence courses, spent his lunch hours tutoring him and then proctored each of the three-hour exams from Excelsior College.
In July 2003, Mr. Kaufman was off for the summer, but made special trips to Rikers so Mr. Lee could take his next college exam. "All the teachers were on vacation and school didn't begin until September," Mr. Lee wrote in a letter sent to this reporter from Rikers. "But Kaufman comes here to Rikers not once, but twice just so that he could give me the test on a hot summer day. He didn't have to come; he could have stayed home with his wife and kids."
The Times article makes it clear that everyone at the school respects and likes Mr. Kaufman, and that the teacher was upfront with his administration about the (completely innocent) correspondence between himself and his student. The article also suggests that the school's administration might have used the correspondence as an excuse to punish Kaufman for reporting poor conditions at the school.
I understand that a prison needs to draw strict boundaries between inmates and their visitors, teachers, and others, for safety reasons, but this school is throwing away one of its best teachers on the flimsiest of causes. For shame.
Here's another blog from the Bronx, and this guy teaches in the same neighborhood where I work.