The Book is “All Day, A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island” by Liza Jessie Peterson, published in 2017. This is a personal account of a “starving artist” who became a jail-school teacher to support herself.

The author wrote that she initially did a stint at Rikers Island (the famous jail in New York City) as a substitute teacher in spring 2008 for three weeks. She was then hired full-time in the autumn to teach a pre-GED (the then-high-school equivalency exam) class of youths awaiting transfers or releases.

The author described in detail what went on in the classroom and how she was able to relate to, and inspire her students to try to turn their lives around. The teenage students had had troubled home lives and some had committed truly serious crimes.

In mid-autumn 2008, the teachers at the school got an ultimatum to teach the “rubric” curriculum. There were specific (unrealistic) time allotments for different activities during a period. The clueless educrats who were imposing the new, draconian, inscrutable system weren’t even American education consultants. The author wrote they were from Australia (!)

Further, the author was spot-on in her description of the changes to education in recent decades, “Just follow the dollars. There is a rush to incarcerate rather than educate. The pipeline is clear… overcrowded, under-resourced classrooms. Outdated textbooks. Overworked, underpaid teachers…”

Read the book to learn of the multiple frustrations, traumas and triumphs the author claimed to have lived, in a dark, stressful, depressing place.

ENDNOTE: Peterson ended up resigning in early February of 2009, to maintain her sanity, and to work at a job with at-risk youths. So it was not an entire “year” as in the book’s title. Also, her terminology was outdated for the time in which claimed she taught. She mentioned “correctional officers,” “Board of Education,” and “superintendent” whom she named as Cami Anderson. The reason for this was unclear, as the newer terms would have shown that she really had taught those kids like she said she did. It does matter for the fact that the book was supposedly nonfiction– her own personal account. She should have honestly told the reader it was someone else’s experience, as told to her. This way, she wouldn’t appear to be another Janet Cooke of Washington Post fame. Too bad, because the author’s descriptions rang true about life for the sector of society she had witnessed and was attempting to assist.