High school debate, alive and well in Oakland

Skyline debate team (courtesy photo)

EXCEL’s Tanesha Walker (back row, middle), and Top Speaker Rashid Campbell (back row, left) with the Skyline High School team. Campbell and Walker won the championship trophy at last weekend’s debate championships.

Christopher Scheer, a teacher and debate coach at Skyline High School, sent me a recap of the Bay Area Urban Debate League championships last weekend, which I’ve posted below.

My favorite quote:

I spoke with my martial arts mentor this morning, said Campbell, a senior at Skyline from East Oakland who will attend the University of Oklahoma on a debate scholarship this fall. “We talked about how I wasn’t scared to fail, I was scared to succeed. I decided to succeed.

For the full play-by-play of the competition, check out Scheer’s write-up below:

Having won the previous league tournament and proven they could compete with some of the best debaters from around the country just weeks earlier in New York City, Oakland teens Tanesha Walker and Rashid Campbell arrived at the Bay Area Urban Debate League Championships [BAUDL] this weekend as the favorites.

In the end, however, neither the added pressure nor several dozen other debaters from San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley could knock the hybrid team from EXCEL and Skyline high schools off their game: They marched undefeated through the field and finished by defeating Latoree Howard of Skyline on the auditorium stage at Fremont Federation of High Schools on Sunday evening.

“I spoke with my martial arts mentor this morning,” said Campbell, a senior at Skyline from east Oakland who will attend the University of Oklahoma on a debate scholarship this Fall. “We talked about how I wasn’t scared to fail, I was scared to succeed. I decided to succeed.”

Eight varsity pairs “broke” from Saturday’s prelims into Sunday’s quarterfinals at the two-day end-of-the-year tournament, which included some 60+ competitors from Balboa, Mission and Downtown high schools in San Francisco, and Fremont, Oakland and Street Academy high schools in Oakland. Cal Prep, a charter school based in Berkeley, also took part in the second annual championship event for the new league, which aims to bring the grueling and academic activity of policy debate to high-poverty schools.

“Debate is a traditional and meaningful path to a multitude of careers and a way to strengthen the ability of young people to speak for themselves and make their own history,” said Skyline Coach Christopher Scheer. “Why should that only be available to those who can afford private school or to live in the suburbs?”

Schools competing in urban debate leagues – there are 19 currently operating around the country – must be “40-40” schools, meaning they serve a student body of which at least 40 percent qualify for free lunch and 40 percent are minority. Perhaps ironically, the national topic this year for all policy debate leagues called for teams to put forth plans to solve poverty in the United States. Campbell and Walker, who hopes to start a policy debate team at UCLA next year, “ran” a prison reform affirmative which called for the Supreme Court to demand increased education and health care in the nation’s prisons, both to reduce recidivism and decrease the chance of epidemics.

In the final debate, Howard, debating alone on Sunday because her partner couldn’t get out of her shift at work, argued such controversial social services spending would cost President Obama political capital he needs to pass financial regulation reform laws this Summer. On a 2-1 split decision, however, Howard, who had upset top pairs from Skyline and Balboa on her way to the final debate, lost to the veteran pair.

(She had a consolation prize, however, as the recipient of one of a score of debate camp scholarships granted Saturday by the league to a score of economically-needy competitors. Howard will attend the Gonzaga University camp for two weeks in Spokane, Washington.)

Here loss meant Walker and Campbell were undefeated in 12 straight rounds since forming their partnership at the April tournament in order to prepare for their full scholarship trip to compete in NYC at the National Urban Debate Leagues National Championship, held at the top of the JP Morgan Chase bank earlier this month. At that event, Campbell and Tanesha took first runner-up in the Building Leagues category and Campbell earned a 14th place speaker gavel.

Back in Oakland this weekend, Campbell, who raps as part of his framework argument calling for the voices of the oppressed to be heard, took first place speaker. Campbell also earned the “Best Debater” award, as voted on by his peers in the league.

Skyline High won the overall Sweepstakes award, while a hybrid pair from Street Academy and Fremont took the championship in the Novice category. For the whole year, with statistics from all seven tournaments, Skyline won the annual Sweepstakes trophy, while Natassia Jordan of Cal Prep took the first-place speaker award.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Nextset

    While anything that gets students out – seeing other schools teams and competing is a good thing, I was struck with the concept of “40-40″.

    So we are now told the schools participate in race segregated competitions? OK. Where are the white teams? Because once race is openly used by schools to determine who can play and who can’t, you cannot bar it being used for the other ethnic groups either.

    Unless you cling to the fiction that “AA” is legal and you can prefer your favorite protege races and not others. This appears to be a race-based school activity, designed to keep the chillun competing with their own so they do not compete with white (or other) dominated teams/schools. Then we give them the gold stars for being the best race team I suppose. Admittedly we do it with some of the sports teams and competitions but not by law, only by practice. Here they have rules to keep it real.

    The students will have very different conditions when they get to law school and practice.

    Brave New World.

  • Christopher Scheer


    Don’t be a hater.

    The point of the league is not to segregate but to support the creation of teams and tournaments where none can or will exist because of a lack of resources, especially parent resources. The 40-40 rule is just a crude measure of the NEED for extra support in a racist, classist society.

    This is not a race or poverty league, but an incubator league for schools where parents and schools can’t afford to send kids to three-day tournaments in far-flung locales (with hotel rooms, entry fees and the whole shebang). The goal for all of us is to see our kids succeed at the highest levels of the activity. In-league competitions are just a starting point.

    By creating an infrastructure for local debate and then supporting the students willing to do the very hard work to compete, we are creating a challenging opportunity that does not exist otherwise.

    Already, after only two years of the league, we compete with everybody in some competitions; for example we entered a score of kids to the “West Coast Superbowl of Debate” — the conveniently located Cal Invitational — in March. Our inexperienced students lost more rounds than they won — but they beat some folks and learned a lot in the process during the three-day competition that involves thousands of kids from across the country.

    In BAUDL, the kids debate the same topics with the same rules as every school in the nation. However, unlike Head Royce, say, a top local debate school, we can’t employ professional coaches and our students’ parents can’t send them to pricy debate summer camps. So the nonprofit, independent league steps in to help with both, to maximize and extend limited OUSD resources.

    BAUDL is not lowering the bar at all, but rather it is opening doors of opportunity to a challenging intellectual activity.

    Thanks for listening,
    Christopher Scheer, Skyline teacher

  • Christopher Scheer

    And as long as we’re sharing good news about Oakland students…

    Skyline Oracle Managing Editor Monica Floyd and ten other Oakland high school journalists whose work appeared in the Oakland Teen Times picked up awards at a ceremony for California high school journalists at San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers on May 17.

    Judge Jim Finefrock wrote that Floyd’s opinion piece “Generation Ignorant Misuses Tech Tools” was “classic.”

    “You obviously thought about your topic and planned what you were going to say before you said it,” said Finefrock in his judge’s comments on the second-place winning opinion column. “There’s hardly a false step in the piece. You provide lots of information and strong arguments. You seem fair. You write economically. You suggest it’s not all teens’ fault. You cover the waterfront in not-so-many words. And you restrict your piece to one main topic. Classic. Way to go.”

    Floyd’s article can be found at http://www.skylineoracle.com/opinion/2009/11/21/generation-ignorant/

    This year’s contest, sponsored by the Northern California Press Women, included entries from all over California because the director of the southern chapter reportedly fell ill and could not run the regional contest.

    Also taking home second place prizes were Jose Alvarenga and Fuey Saechao of Fremont Federation’s Media Academy. A judge called Alvarenga and Saechao’s feature story “Teens Warm Up Laborer’s Days” one of the top stories in the contest.

    Judges also were impressed with work done by students at Oakland High and Castlemont Business, Information and Technology School (CBITS) for the news story “Two students fatally shot in 16-day span” and awarded them a third-place prize. Writers were Onisha Barham, Thao Tran and Rosey Uribe of Oakland High and Devonna Atkins and Ameriah Hayes of CBITS.

    Jack Mejia, another Media Academy student, won a third prize for her feature story “Can vampires build your SAT vocab?” and Oakland Unity High students Karina Gonzalez and Jessica Ortega won an honorable mention in features for “The Quinceanera – pricey rite of passage.”

    Before the awards, students, advisers and family members received a tour of the Conservatory of Flowers, part of the Golden Gate Park that needed to be rebuilt when strong winds blew out the structure’s glass windows in 1995

    Contact: Beatrice Mohammed, OTT Adviser, bymotamedi@gmail.com
    Lisa Shafer, OTT Adviser and Media Academy Adviser, lisalshafer@gmail.com
    Christopher Scheer, Skyline Oracle Adviser, cwscheer@gmail.com

  • Lisa Shafer

    Nextset — I reckon you’ll find something bad to say about my student’s essay on debate (It ran in our school newspaper, which I know you think is fluff and totally unnecessary for “ghetto” kids). I, on the other hand, think this young man has learned a heckuvalot debating. He grown a huge amount intellecutally and socially in the Urban Debate League and he’s gotten a taste of the competition he is up against when he gets out of his neighborhood. Three cheers for BAUDL for giving him the stepping stone he needs to take on ANY debater.
    By Brandon Sneed
    Media Academy / Fremont Federation

    Last summer, I flew to Austin, Texas, on a debate camp scholarship through the Bay Area Urban Debate League. It was the first time I had been on an airplane, and, quite frankly, I was afraid at first.

    I arrived on the University of Texas campus for debate camp. After the dorm attendant gave me my room keys, I walked through the halls and noticed every individ­ual in the debate camp had in their posses­sion a laptop.
    Everyone except me and other debaters from our league.

    It wasn’t the last time I would feel under­privileged. Ironically, the whole camp was studying for the national debate topic of the year – poverty.

    In one of my debate courses, the teacher asked why I did not bring a laptop. I lied, “I left it at home” just to save myself from the embarrassment.

    As the class continued, the teacher taught as if we were required to have a laptop by passing around a flashdrive to give us debate evidence. Again, I was at a disadvantage.

    During our research, I had to study epis­temology, which is the study of knowing. Many debaters knew what epistemology and many other political topics meant. I did not; however, I wasn’t completely at a loss.

    I did research on my own time about our governmental structure. During study time, I was sent to the lab, where I researched and printed some evidence while other campers already had the necessary tools right in the classroom. I might have not have the same resources as the wealthier participants, but I didn’t let that stop me.

    I came back to Oakland and debated the topic of poverty with students more like me in my own debate league. It was a more even playing field.
    But just this month, I again experienced debating against students with more resourc­es at a national tournament at the Univer­sity of California, Berkeley. People from all over the United States came to debate poverty.

    In the debate rounds, I saw a guy with a portable printer that folds up. I did not even know they existed. Many students read evidence from their laptops and even researched political events happening at the moment to help them gain an edge over me and my partner.

    Again, we debated about poverty and at one point I got angry, almost screaming, “You don’t know anything about poverty, you’re wealthy!”

    Before the debate began, I asked my opponents whether or not they were wealthy, hoping to gain an advantage. It did not work.

    The technological tools they had – and their stronger educational background – were too much for me and my partner. We lost many rounds.

    Nevertheless, debating on poverty, es­pecially with students from much wealthier communities, has taught me a lot. It has taught me never to give up even when it seems pointless to carry on; it’s made me strive harder in order to succeed, not only in debate but in life in general.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Congratulations to these outstanding debaters and journalists and their teachers and sponsors. Debate club and the school newspaper were where I gained most of my communication skills, and it is good to see our students receiving these same opportunities.

  • Sara

    I hope Brandon realizes he will need a laptop in college. One can be bought for 280.00 used. I don’t know if he has a cell phone but if he values his education over texting his friends he will get rid of the cell phone and get a laptop. He can’t compete in this world without one.

  • Nextset

    Mr. Sheer:

    Your writing is remarkable.

    My comment is certainly not directed at the students but the rules of the school league that used race to determine who would be allowed to compete with who.

    It appears to me that directing the student’s energy into a league that excluded white dominated schools completely (for example) limits their experience and avoids giving them any exposure of this sort. I find that a problem.

    You of course go off on the “hate” thing, throwing in the gratuitious remark that you consider US society to be classist and racists. OK – this helps. This way of speaking and thinking is classic rad-lib, a politic that infests public school staff. Well that would fit the situation. The ultimate question is, are you preparing your students for mainstream industry, military, or higher-ed work or are you preparing them to be foot soldiers/cannon fodder in some Marxist Revolution?

    Not that I don’t consider the Brave New World classist – it is big time. This Brave New World is all about the destruction of social mobility and the containment of people into the caste they were born in. Part of the way this works is that people end up being forced into rotten schools where they receive Caste indoctrination to the point where they have no social mobility and are stuck in the occupations and society they were born into. Race is a part of Caste when the chillun are carefully trained to always think and act like a typical Negro/Mexican/Asian/Poor White What-Have-You. Starting with speaking in dialect and ending with all of the typical thoughts and behaviors.

    Keeping the students in the Negro Leagues helps enforce the Caste indoctrination. I expect you would know that. You would say the 40-40 rule allows for plenty of white competition – I say that the entire design of it is to make sure your students can “keep it real” and stay in their comfort zones.

    I probably know a lot more than you about blacks moving out of black neighborhoods and schools and moving into white/jewish dominated occupations, professions, academics, neighborhoods and so on. I remember the hulabaloo over the first black meter maid, garbageman, bus driver in the East Bay not to mention Judges, Assemblyman, and so on. Now that we are through some of that, there is a different problem with occupational integration.

    To cut this short – conditioning the students to stay in the home leagues whether it is from 1st grade or in college promotes lifelong tendencies to continue doing so. And our OUSD public schools are just happy to do this. Especially if the kids might be recruited to “the cause” the staff has in mind.

    Why have this 40-40 rule at all? Could it be because you only seek opponents with like politics & values to compete with?

    Lisa Shafer: I take it you are a teacher. I am not surprised.

    As far as the writing of the student… I do have some comments. Tell me if you thing they are as bad as you expect.

    His statement does reflect that his teachers failed and neglected to coach him on what to expect and how to prepare for his trip and the competition. It appears that he did not anticipate what equipment is commonly used and why in the competition, and made no effort whatsoever to beg, borrow or buy a laptop. His story of flying for the first time is interesting also. A well trained high school student being sent by plane to an away competiton would have been well coached on airport/flying/connecting/hotel protocols. His instructors would have known it was his first time – they would have asked – and a good instructor would have made sure the nuances of travel were covered. It is dangerous not to do this.

    Perhaps he traveled escorted or as part of a group so no one bothered to coach him on these matters thinking that he didn’t require or merit the required training to make him feel reasonably competent. (At least a viewing of George Clooney’s movie “Up In The Air”?)

    I have run into a number of teens who were world travelers at 14 with their own frequent traveler accounts, Iphones and credit cards. Nowadays because of divorce it is not uncommon to have teens who travel alone on public conveyences cross country dealing with transfers on their own. But those I’ve met were Jewish not Black, maybe mixed?? In my experience the black kids do not have an easy time getting their parents to send them off like this – there are significant cultural differences in child raising in areas of control and independence.

    So it may be up to the schools to provide some coaching. Good schools do. Whatever it takes.

    And if you really want to get into cultural differences and lack of preparation, let’s talk about teens and money/bank accounts/transaction cards and race/class. That comes up on school field trips to DC & New York also.

  • Christopher Scheer

    I skimmed your epic essay, Nextset, because I only have ten minutes on break. But suffice it to say, you don’t answer the main issue:

    If this is not a classist, racist society, and competitive debate is the number one path (statistically) to political and legal careers that high school can provide, than why does it rest on a new nonprofit with 1.25 employees to start and maintain 15+ teams and a league in Oakland AND San Francisco public schools?

    You are just twisting the situation to fit your political agenda.

    Are you also against high school sports leagues that are formed based on the size of the school? Do you demand that national football powerhouse De La Salle be allowed in the same league with lightweights like Piedmont and Albany?

    Because that is the logic if you are promoting the idea that Head Royce, a national debate powerhouse, should be allowed at the BAUDL tournaments co-paid for by OUSD and the BAUDL.

    But kudos on being an active debater in public!

    Christopher Scheer

  • Nextset

    Mr. Scheer: I rather think you could select students to give Head Royce a challenge. Maybe not every day of the week, but on occasion. And I think your students would benefit by the chance to do so.

    I don’t think I’ll get into the football issue at the moment. That issue is far more racially loaded.

    Debate is different. Debate is closer to the essense of what makes a citizen. Some of your students I’m sure can rise to the challenge of standing up to anyone. That doesn’t take physicality. Those skills can be found and can be developed. They should go for it. And even in losing the opportunity to appraise the “others” in verbal skills is useful.

    What is not useful is to be taught (as children) avoid the arena of public discourse, to limit yourself to your kind. Better to get out in the world under controlled conditions.

    I see those who have lived like that (segregated). I see members of the same race or group who made the effort not to. The living is better in the latter group, even allowing for stress.

    Students should not be kept in their comfort zones.

  • Christopher Scheer

    I feel like you didn’t read my initial response fully: We debate private school kids at invitationals, such as the huge Cal one which happens each year in March.

    The logistics of debate are challenging, but you are right to suggest our kids would benefit from intramural scrimmages with more advanced teams and open tournaments. We are not in disagreement.

    I just want you to see that an incubation structure is not at all the same as “negro leagues” as you say.

  • Nextset

    Mr. Scheer: I have to acknowledge that any school has a limit of where they can send their competitive teams relating to distance and money. To the extent the 40-40 schools happen to fit into the footprint of where the team can afford to compete it’s relevant to being a league you join. I am very surprised at a debate league specifically being formed based on how dark the schools are. Thus the comment on “negro leagues”, which we both know used to exist in many contexts not that long ago. And it still does.

    One of the duties I believe the educators of black students have is to get their students as prepared as possible to get out of the Negro Leagues into mainstream competition for jobs/occupations as part of the duty of education to promote economic and social mobility. And the odd part of all this is that the students is most cases are in no hurry at all to get out of their comfort zone. They might just decide to stay in the N leagues in many things.. like the menu better and all that.

    Or maybe this kind of thought is just a relic of 1964. Anyway, it seemed like a good idea at the time. The grass was always greener. So’s the service.

  • Nextsetmatch

    How easy it is to criticize from the cheap seats. Nextset, I challenge you to coach debate at an Oakland public high school for one year, debating only against the privileged schools of the suburbs, and keep a team together. It is abundantly clear that you have never tried anything similar, and yet you speak with such bluster of what Mr. Scheer should do. For shame.

  • Nextset

    Nexsetmatch: You personalize things, which is interesting in itself. I certainly don’t know Mr. Scheer and although I worked as a sub once in a public school while waiting for Bar Passage I don’t pretend to be in the trenches dealing with school politics and limitations. My interest here is policy. This thread started off with the 40-40 league policy which I found to be unheard of. It’s wrong to keep black students from exposure to mainstream people of thought – especially in the name of sheltering them.

    As if Mr. Sherr sets policy for the district and what leagues the district will join or not… As far as I know he is a teacher not an administrator.

    But to your point.. I would not work as a OUSD Teacher. I don’t buy into the philosophy of OUSD or the way it is run or the way they treat their workers. If was to take a Bay Area teaching job it would be at college level unless it was Piedmont Unified. The reason is the (more) appropriate working conditions.

    There is no future in working for a badly run charity – or contributing to one.

    And if you are going to steal my handle – tell us something about yourself so we can decide if we should even sconsider taking your point of view seriously. What is your education and experience?

  • Tanesha Walker

    Nextset: Hi My name is Tanesha The one the article is on I feel that you truly wrong. The BAUDL League has set the bar extremly high for us. We have went against some of the best schools and out of leagues tournament even though we had lost of our rounds we learn a lot. In addition you can not say this is race base activity. Our league is very diverse we have Latinos, Asians, African-Americans, and Whites. Two of my good friends that I meet from debate are both name Zack. They both happen to be white. In New York, I also meet a lot of people of differnt cultures. We have to remember not all people in poverty are minorities Furthermore, if the bar was set low they would not be able to send us to some of the best debate camps like the University of Texas in Austin where I learn a lot about debate such as theories which I brought back. At camp, I meet a lot of kids who where from private schools and who already had tubs of evidence but that didnt make them that much better. I beat a few. The reason is nost of the kids won is because their schools debate team may have been around for decades or centuries. The Bay Area Urban Debate League and the National Urban Debate League gives disadvantage kids like me a chance to try something new. I am really grateful for them. Most of the people in out leagues are volunteers that travel to these tournaments and practice. These people are not getting paid for anything. My own coach lives in San Francisco works in Palo Atlo and comes to by school. We have debaters from Cal Berkeley who each are assign to a school to help mentor us. My own mentor has given me a laptop

  • Nextset

    Tanesha: I think your points and my answers are:

    “BAUDL League set the bar high.”
    That’s not the point. The problem I see (complained about) here is that the students are being gently steered into debating only with certain people and not with the others. White/Jewish dominated schools for example that don’t make the 40-40 cut.

    “In addition you can not say this is a race based activity … We have (Blacks, Whites, Asians, Mexicans)”.
    Also not the point. My beef is that you are carefully being pitted only against racially “balanced” schools so that you don’t run up against a school of Mormons, a school of Southern Whites, A school of WASP patricians, etc. It is less safe to reach employment age/career age and not to have the experience of dealing with everybody and their behaviors, attitudes and beliefs. You wouldn’t even know what you are missing.

    “The Bay Area Urban Debate League …” (gives us a good experience).
    That may be true, but don’t say they are exposing you to all comers and all takers. You are being run through a limited experience. It is what it is, there’s not enough money to do everything. But look out for hidden political agendas designed to keep you on the reservation.

    ” (they like me, they do things for me, they give me a laptop even) ”
    Also not the point. No one said the people who spend time and energy don’t like you. There is a line about pats on the back holding you back… it’s TRUE. No malice implied, just that you are about to experience a lot of people keeping your training wheels on and keeping you on the reservation. Open your eyes and look at all of these experiences critically rather than being so grateful you were let out of the house at all. There is a reason why you were paired with “appropriate” schools as opponents. Never go through life taking somebody else’s word for it that you should stay with “appropriate” – even if they might be right and you might be safer & comfortable that way.

    There is a lot of goodies out there for some black folks that move quickly and early away from safe and expected fields of study and competition.

    Just ask Condeleeza Rice. Now how old was she when she started studying Russian & Concert Piano? How about those board seats before she became Secretary of State?

    I may hurt to think this way, but it’s later than you think. I have met too many black folks in my life who, going back to the turn of the century – the previous one – did something NO black folks did and hit it big. Sometimes they went to places where they were the only one, sometimes they went to far away schools, sometimes they studied some subject the other blacks never did, sometimes they just made friends with people no one else did.

    Actually between meeting and reading about black folks who were extraordinary, if there is one thing I learned it’s that can pay big to pursue unconventional education, travel, experiences and occupations.

    Letting anybody else draw reservation boundries and stick you into it doesn’t pay if for the simple reason you end up being just another one of a herd. Sometimes it’s better to run off to Paris.

    I reacted to this issue because of my own experiences. You’re just getting yours. Enjoy the time in school and make your own decisions.

  • Christopher Scheer

    I said it already, I’ll say it again: These kids ARE debating the schools you describe! Just not all the time. Tanesha competed at the Cal invitational, as well as at a top national debate camp.

    When I played high school sports, we wouldn’t see the next level until North Coast Sectionals — and then it was like we were running in sand.

    Think of BAUDL as OAL and the invitationals as NCS and the parallel is pretty simple.

    BTW, Tanesha is going to UCLA and hopes to start a Policy Debate team there because they don’t have one. She is hardly keeping herself in a bubble.

  • Sue

    Nextset sees his “bubble” all the time, even when it’s not there – even when multiple people *repeatedly* tell him the “bubble” he’s fixated on isn’t there.

    It’s his eye-sight that’s causing the confusion here. The “bubble’s” existance is his “comfort zone”. Apparently, he can’t get out of his own “comfort zone” no matter how many times he advises others to get out of theirs.

    Some of us want to, and do, get out and swim in the ocean, while, like Nextset, some prefer to stay in their small pond where they can feel like they’re a big fish.

  • Nextset

    Sue, Sue!!!

    What do you think of the new thread about graduation rates?

    Who’s fault/responsibility is it the various groups are where they are on graduating? Their parents? The teachers? The State? The students themselves? The Food Producers?

  • Brian

    I’m in the East Bay and my public HS does not have a debate team. Does anyone know of a program I can join? Thank you.

  • Hot R

    That was a very powerful essay Lisa. I can’t believe there isn’t a program in OUSD which repairs old laptops or you can’t go to Clorox or Kaiser and get a donation so that your kids would not have to do without.

    Nextset – we all have to support Lisa and Robert. They are doing God’s work because they won’t take no for an answer and are willing to meet with defiance the hand they have been dealt. That makes them the best kind of educators.