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There is a famous anecdote of Pablo Picasso interacting with a fan later in his career. The master painter is in a restaurant and someone recognizes him. "Will you sketch me something?" he is asked. Picasso obliges, pulls out a pencil and creates something that's unmistakably his, rather quickly. "How much?" the patron asks. "$100k," Picasso replies. "But that only took you 30 seconds!" the incredulous customer responds. Picasso pulls the sketch back from the man with a simple response, "You're paying for the years, not the seconds."

Teaching is a glorious art. One of the worst things we have allowed in our society is to let learning be diminished into factory work. My disdain for that degradation seems to always get me into trouble. Maybe you heard ("Fired South High math teacher accuses Minneapolis Public Schools management of 'cancerous rot,' " April 29).

Public education is a groundbreaking gift that America invented. The students I got to teach still paid for it in places like Ecuador, Peru and Honduras. When I asked an immigrant student once, over translation, if she felt pressure to work, she stated, "No, we are so grateful that school here is free. My mother wants me to go to school and learn."

It was that same girl who texted me last week two days after I was terminated to say, "Ms. Thompson, we miss you. The class is out of control without you. No one is learning."

I have heard therapists say that betrayal trauma leaves the most lasting impact. From my lived experience, I would be inclined to agree. There might be people in our city right now who would consider my breach of the code of silence a betrayal. "We are already so tight for money, do you want to destroy everything?" is something I've been asked. "Thanks a lot for giving our school a bad name" is another. As though the silence held something sacred, as though, so long as the lie was still intact, we didn't have to feel it.

I view the betrayal differently. I view the betrayal as adults, entrusted with protecting and educating children, preferring the "path of least resistance" to assure that their position and paycheck stayed in place. Administrators in the Minneapolis Public Schools make about $220,000 per year. That's more than the mayor. Keep your head low, make it to vestment, and you're set for life. Bad administrators don't get fired, they get reassigned, they get promoted. Seinfeld covered this long ago and we laughed. Yet please remember, satire only works when it represents something real.

I cannot write toward what actually happened inside my experience at the moment. I want to make sure that everyone is comfortable with the facts. Journalists or lawyers will lay those out for you. Why I am writing is for you to understand that children deserve our best, and we are not giving it.

A few years ago, I wrote and directed, along with my students, a riff on "Cell Block Tango" from the musical "Chicago." We called it "I.S.S. Tango." Kids wrote short pithy poetic anecdotes of their experiences that led them to "in-school suspension." We'd laugh a bit, turn on the music and dance. What bonded them were their stories, and having some levity about life. It was wonderful to watch them joyously shout sing on opening night about their version of why they were justified in being upset: "He had it coming! He had it coming! He only had himself to blame! If you'd have been there, if you'd have seen it, I'll bet that you would have done the same!"

We were a charter school working out of the Lincoln Community School building in north Minneapolis. For the show we even rented lights, had a fog machine and everything. I was so proud of them. They were so proud of themselves.

Kids want us to believe in them. They don't want to be constantly reminded of their hardship. The best educators create an environment where learning becomes play and structure becomes safety. Where we take our experiences and release them into song.

"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so free that your very existence is an act of rebellion." — Albert Camus.

Thank you for reading.

Becka Thompson, of Minneapolis, is a member of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. She was fired last week as a teacher of math to English language learners in the Minneapolis Public Schools over "inappropriate communication."