Dan Glaister in The Guardian:
Set up three years ago by the writer Dave Eggers and some friends, 826 Valencia in San Francisco’s Mission district is a drop-in centre for schoolchildren looking for extra help with homework, a bit of peace and quiet, or a chance to listen to a good story.
The place has been so successful that it has spawned imitators: New York City has one in Brooklyn (the front is a superhero supplies shop, where the aerodynamic qualities of capes can be tested using an industrial fan), Los Angeles and Michigan have them, and others are imminent in Chicago and Seattle. Massachusetts and Cincinnati have centres modelled on 826.
But that is only part of the story. Eggers, along with two colleagues, has also edited an oral history book, Teachers Have It Easy. It describes, with sometimes startling explicitness, their daily lives. Sure, there’s the teaching, the long days, the constant pressure of being on the job. But other things truly shock: the teachers who mow lawns at weekends or paint houses to make ends meet. The teacher who works in a bar to buy books for his class. If you want an easy life, the book explains in an easy-to-follow chart, become a pharmaceuticals salesman, not a teacher.