Although I am not with you,
You are in my mind and heart.
I want to share a few words
As this school year is about to start.
Because the future seems terribly uncertain,
This much is surely true.
You must focus on the here and now
It is all there is to do.
Each month this year will be another stage in the ongoing battle
You begin this year with drastic changes as you have in every other
Therefore, your only hope is to work and pull together
Help, support, and care for one another.
As in the past, so now again,
There are too few on whom you can depend.
Your battle must largely be waged alone
Unite to achieve a better and not a bitter end.
For when you enter teaching,
You do go into a war.
The enemies are bigotry, indifference, ignorance, and hate.
These vipers last forever more.
You have never had a fair chance,
And still you have done so well.
Now people mutter platitudes and stand back
Well, they can go straight to Hell!
In this perhaps final battle
In this godforsaken place
Keep faith with one another
And maintain a vigorous pace.
When odds are high and chances slim,
The brave still choose to fight.
After the fury is over and the wounded strew the ground,
Take pride that no one can say you did not do what’s right.
Those who make the decisions may claim they did their best
But they do not face day to day a harsh and enormous task
They sit within their offices or at their meeting table
What should be done they could have known, had they but deigned to ask.
They made it easy on themselves and went to home or church.
In their ignorance and arrogance they made adverse choices.
Now, the battle is upon you and they have left you in the lurch.
So forget about external help,
To thine own selves be true.
In this terrible and protracted struggle,
You each must be there again repeatedly for every one of you.
Though now scorned and abandoned.
You form the last thin line
That can teach the children
Of a fair and happier time.
You have become such easy targets
Of the vicious, crass, and cruel
They ran from all their duties
And placed them on the school.
So I have no words of comfort and precious few of hope.
But I know you are all wicked smart and almost foolishly brave.
I know that in this terrible battle,
It is the future that you will save.