Racist Gym Teacher Closes Achievement Gap


–Philadelphia, PA

Researchers and journalists from around the country have descended on Philadelphia this evening to document the frontier of education reform. In one east side Philly neighborhood, a teacher has quietly gone about his astounding, path-breaking work for three decades. If preliminary data for this year prove correct, physical education teacher Reggie Jackson of Charles Carroll High School has nearly closed the achievement gap.

The Teachbad Education News (TEN) team is in Philadelphia and we’ve finally caught up with Mr. Jackson, 61, after a district awards banquet. He has generously agreed to an interview:

TEN: First of all, congratulations on your award, Mr. Jackson. You must be proud.

JACKSON: Thank you. I appreciate that. I really do. But it’s the kids who deserve the award.

TEN: Of course they do. So, they say you’ve nearly closed the achievement gap, but people are skeptical. Is it true?

JACKSON: Is what true…that people are skeptical?

TEN: No. Is it true you’ve closed the achievement gap?

JACKSON: Yeah…it’s true. I closed the shit outta the achievement gap. I can see it. I can measure it. For example, the white kids really started comin’ around toward the end of the basketball unit. I have four white sophomores in my second period who can dunk. Can you believe that? I got a white girl in fifth period who can dunk. A white girl!

TEN: I have to admit that’s pretty unusual. What else have you got?

JACKSON: When we were doin’ lacrosse and hockey the black kids really stepped up to the plate, so to speak. The white kids couldn’t believe it. By the end of the lacrosse unit the black kids could cradle up to the crease and let go a wicked bounce as fast as the white kids. The white kids learned how to jump though…so I guess it sorta evened out. They help each other.

I’ll never forget the look on David and Kevin’s faces when they realized that Day’Shawn and Ke’Vonte knew how to skate. That’s the definition of fear right there, man. Sorta like when Shay’QuonTyrese and Tynika saw Wallie and Beaver dunk for the first time. Nobody knew what the hell to think!! Man, that’s why I’m a teacher.

But listen to me…it’s not just about white kids and black kids.

The Mexico kids know how to throw a football now, I mean a real one…not a soccer ball or some shit like that; and the black and white kids are 92 percent proficient in soccer for the first time anywhere in the USA. We played soccer until everybody liked it….except that one white kid in third period, Ronald or Donald or somethin’. But it’s alright. I’ll get that little cracker next year…you heard? We’ll be callin’ him Ronaldo.


TEN: But how did you do it? I mean, those are remarkable gains. What happened?

JACKSON: I love sports, man. All sports. And I love kids. I go out there and play and teach. And my kids, my students, they know I don’t mess around and they come in here to work hard every day. They don’t never give up. Never. These kids are fighters and they know how to work. I give them a goal and they beat it every time.

They want to get better; better than you thought they could be and they’ll work their asses off to do it. If a little white girl wants to dunk, dammit she’ll dunk! I’ll make sure of that!


TEN: Tell me more about your method and pedagogy.

JACKSON: My what and my what?? Dang, white boy…you makin’ this too hard.

Here’s all I do: I take each kid where he is, see, put ‘em in groups of kids that all know the same shit and I challenge ‘em. Right away they want to get better. Right away. They compete in their groups and they compete to get moved up to the next group. It’s really about the kids and their own motivation and desire to do this…I can’t make that up. I don’t care who your momma is or where you come from…this is the most talented, motivated and hard working generation America has ever seen.

And the parents, too. They up in my shit all the time about What skills can we be workin’ on at home? or How can I help Eduardo with his essay about sportsmanship?…The kids and families around here? They got it, man. Eye of the tiger…you know what I mean? I can’t explain it but I thank God for it every day. I just provide a little structure to gather up that energy and hard work.

Bless the children, man…bless the children.

TEN: Your students are truly are blessed, sir. Do you want to share any other successes or best practices?

JACKSON: Do me a favor, man. Don’t ever say best practices to me again. Ok? Under any circumstances. That’s all I ask.

TEN: Of course. You’re right. After being in education for so long it just sort of squirts out of you like diarrhea on a hot day when you’re wearing white pants on a crowded train. You know?

JACKSON: Yeah?…I haven’t found that.

TEN: Right…I mean just for example…somebody I know…Anyhoo, what else has been going on in your classes?

JACKSON: Aw man…I could talk all day. I got lots of examples. Listen to this…it looks like my one-armed Mexico kid might make the crew team. How ’bout that? Don’t that put a smile on your face? It sho’ do mine.

But it’s not perfect.

TEN: No? How do you mean?

JACKSON: Chinese kids.

(pauses and looks around)

TEN: …And…what about Chinese kids?

JACKSON: Chinese kids still wreck everybody in ping pong. Just kill ‘em. It’s hard to watch.

(Jackson’s voice becomes hushed and urgent…he leans closer.)

These Chinese kids, see…they can beat any of my other kids at ping pong with one hand…not even watchin’ the table because in the other hand he’s got a AP calcuhlus book he’s lookin’ at. He’s playin’ ping pong and looking at the book and talkin’ to some other Chinese kid about calcuhlus. And the white kids and the black kids and the Mexico kids is runnin’ all over the room, fallin’ all over themselves, gettin’ ping pong balls in the eye and it’s just a sad goddamn mess.

TEN: The Chinese invented ping-pong and it’s not a popular sport here. It isn’t surprising they would have an advantage.

JACKSON: That ain’t it, man! It’s more than just the Chinese better at ping-pong! Damn!

I didn’t say anything about this earlier ’cause, honestly, it scares the b’jeezus outta me…but I got two Chinese kids who can dunk. TWO! And that ain’t no fluke, man. And there’s only about 8 of ‘em in the building. Maybe 200. I can’t tell ‘em apart.

And don’t tell the Mexico kids I said this, but the Chinese kids will be runnin’ their asses in soccer soon, too. That ain’t scary?

We gotta watch out for the Chinese. You listen to what I say now…

TEN: Does it bother you at all that some people might consider your comments racist?

JACKSON: I don’t know, man. I’m just tellin’ you what happened…like you asked me to. But I guess stereo-types don’t make themselves up, now do they? Anyway, I ain’t racist; I’m black.


TEN: Mr. Jackson, thank you for talking to us today.

JACKSON: It’s alright. Come back any time and see us.


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