I want to talk to you about my kids. Now, I know everyone thinks that their kid is the most fantastic, the most beautiful kid that ever lived. But mine really are.


  I have 696 kids, and they are the most intelligent, inventive, innovative, brilliant and powerful kids that you'll ever meet.

  Any student I've had the honor of teaching in my classroom is my kid. However, because their "real" parents aren't rich and, I argue, because they are mostly of color, they will seldom get to see in themselves the awesomeness that I see in them. Because what I see in them is myself -- or what would have been myself.

  I am the daughter of two hardworking, college-educated, African-American parents who chose careers as public servants: my father, a minister; my mother, an educator. Wealth was never the primary ambition in our house. Because of this lack of wealth, we lived in a neighborhood that lacked wealth, and henceforth a school system that lacked wealth. Luckily, however, we struck the educational jackpot in a voluntary desegregation program that buses inner-city kids -- black and brown -- out to suburban schools -- rich and white.

  At five years old, I had to take an hour-long bus ride to a faraway place to get a better education. At five years old, I thought everyone had a life just like mine. I thought everyone went to school and were the only ones using the brown crayons to color in their family portraits, while everyone else was using the peach-colored ones. At five years old, I thought everyone was just like me. But as I got older, I started noticing things, like: How come my neighborhood friend don't have to wake up at five o'clock in the morning, and go to a school that's an hour away? How come I'm learning to play the violin while my neighborhood friends don't even have a music class? Why were my neighborhood friends learning and reading material that I had done two to three years prior?