On the first day of school in 2005, Martha Cothren, a teacher at Joe T. Robinson High School in Little Rock, was determined that her students would not take their education or their privilege as Americans for granted.
With the principal's permission, she
removed all the desks from her
classroom.The students entered the empty room and asked, "Mrs.Cothren
, where are our desks?""You get a desk when you tell me how you earn it," she
"Making good grades?"asked one student.
"You ought to make good grades, but that won't get you a desk," Martha
"I guess we have to behave," offered another.
"You WILL behave in my class," Mrs. Cothren
retorted, "but that won't get you a desk either."
No one in first period guessed right.Same for second period.
By lunch, the buzz was all over campus...Mrs. Cothren
had flipped out ....wouldn't let her
students have a desk.Kids had used their cell phones and called their parents.
By early afternoon, all 4 of the local network TV affiliates had camera crews at the school to report on the teacher who wouldn't let her
students have a desk unless they could tell her
how they earned it.By the final period, no one had guessed correctly.
As the students filed in, Martha Cothren
said, "Well, I didn't think you would figure it out, so I'll have to tell you." Martha
opened the door of her
classroom.In walked 27 veterans, some wearing uniforms from years gone by, but each one carrying a school desk.
As they carefully and quietly arranged the desks in neat rows, Martha
said, "You don't have to earn your desks ... these guys already did.