Second Chance Educational Alliance, Inc. students

This is an excerpt from an upcoming paper authored by yours truly and Kaiya Letherer. Kaiya and I have been writing this paper since 2017, when we were explicitly told that this kind of research was not helpful or necessary for the field. Since that time, and since having presented draft versions of this paper at at least two conferences, we have received a tremendous amount of feedback that has been overwhelmingly positive. We have also, individually and collectively, reread this work and made a lot of changes based upon the work we do and the critiques from the currently…


Second Chance Educational Alliance students at their Spring Ceremony at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Facility

** Note: All opinions herein are mine and reflect my personal beliefs. If you got smoke or want it, direct it to me**

Recently, the Vera Institute of Justice, in partnership with the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, released “Investing in Futures.” This report is a call to arms for all supporters of reinstating Pell eligibility for incarcerated students. “Investing” presents a series of estimates and calculations that point directly to the economic and fiscal benefits of providing higher education courses in prison, adding further credence to research that is well over a century old. Since 1877 researchers and…


Every now and again, I am humbled by the thanks I receive from my students. Those of us who do this work don’t do it for thanks; we do it, largely I would assume, because we know the transformative and personally redemptive power of education, introspection, and critical inquiry. But I think I speak for every dedicated educator who teaches behind bars when I say, these moments keep us going. …


Fifteen years ago I was working at a private, boarding school in New England. It was the first admission job in what, over time, became a professional trajectory that would culminate in a directorship some time later. My first year at this school, I interviewed a young man from the Bronx. These were the interviews I liked the best because it was always so much easier to have real conversations and determine answers to the ever elusive question of “fit” (admission folks know what I’m talking about).

The young man in front of me was tall, lanky, in that awkward…


I teach a young man, EH, who often goes by the nickname “Easy” so, for the purposes of not having to refer to him as Student A, I will use his nickname in this blog entry.

Easy has been incarcerated for a while in the Level 4 facility where we hold our English Lit and Comp class. While he has always handed in work of outstanding quality, he was quiet; the section he is in is the livelier of the two that I teach on Thursdays and, amid more than a handful of large personalities, Easy never took up much…


This is a reflection voluntarily written by one of my Rhode Island students who read The Fire Next Time and felt moved to respond. I am reproducing here in its entirety. Enjoy!

“Reflection: The Fire Next Time

It’s funny, much like Baldwin struggling to begin his letter to his nephew, I’ve struggled to start this simple reflection. I was so moved by what I had read within the pages of The Fire Next Time, I felt compelled to put pen to paper. Unfortunately, unlike Baldwin, finding the words, words worthy of expressing the thoughts and emotions raised by his poignant…


November 20, 2017

Dear Mr. Baldwin:

My name is LM. I am writing to you as an admirer of your prose and an empathizer with your pain. The way that you are fondly remembered and admired as a literary hero causes me to regret not familiarizing myself with your work much sooner.

Being a lighter-skinned male of hispanic origin living in a seemingly more tolerable age, I could never begin to fathom the extreme adversity you faced. However, I am familiar with the pain and oppression of the impoverished. I too have seen greatly gifted brothers and sisters, like your…


To anyone who has ever spoken to me about books, it is no secret that my admiration of, and respect for, James Baldwin is limitless. I teach him in every class and always begin discussions of his work with full disclosure to my students that I believe he is an absolute, unmitigated genius. In every way. And I always follow The Fire Next Time with Song of Solomon because I just love reading those two together and talking about the instances of intersection in both pieces. …


http://debate.bard.edu/?page_id=459

The picture above, quite literally, changed my life. One day in October 2015 I was minding my business, and the business of all my friends, whilst browsing Facebook. I happened to see an article about a debate team beating Harvard and, because I am a Harvard hater (not really, but I’m a sucker for David/Goliath stories), I had to read more. Upon closer inspection, it was not an underdog school, per se, that defeated Harvard; it was incarcerated learners who were students in the Bard Prison Initiative that had accomplished this heroic feat. A team of students with limited access…


Clearly, this is Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, but you get the subliminals here…

As educators, it can be really tempting to get caught up in your own hype. You are in this position of profound power (how’s that for alliteration??), in the truest sense of the word, and the dynamic it creates can be intoxicating. And we’ve seen people fall prey to that intoxication. From allegations and actual incidents of impropriety, to people honing their skills of manipulation with their students as the guinea pigs, teachers/educators/professors wield the sort of influence that provides many a narcissist consistent wet dreams.

Abuse of this power is OBVIOUSLY bad. Like, it’s really terrible and, when it…

Erin Corbett

Educator. Doctor of Words. Compassionate Activist. Black Woman. Dog Owner. Netflix n Chiller.

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