Teacher Matt Amaral has been blogging about issues of class, race and what he calls “invisible barriers” that face people of lower socioeconomic status for the last five years.
Then he wrote a blog last month asking Warriors guard Steph Curry not to come to Mt. Eden High School in Hayward where he teaches English. "Coming to poor high schools like mine isn’t going to help any of these kids out, in fact, it might make things worse," he wrote.
And his controversial words, first picked up by Yahoo Sports, have now gone viral.
As of Tuesday, the Yahoo article had more than 3,200 comments. More than 100,000 people had clicked on the original post on Amaral’s Teach4Real site.
“It’s the greatest writing lesson I ever gave,” the 35-year-old Amaral told NBC Bay Area.
For the record, Amaral, who teaches at the same high school he once attended, is a huge Warriors fan. And he thinks Curry is simply “awesome,” noting the player does great things for the community and is a loving son, husband and father.
The reason he doesn’t want Curry to visit his school is for what he expects No. 30 won’t tell his students: The fact that young Curry had a private tutor to help him hone his skills, a father who played professional ball to guide him, a tall genetic disposition, and three square meals a day - things many of his students don't have.
An excerpt from his blog:
“You won’t say that since the day you were born you had a professional one-on-one tutor who helped you hone your skills on a daily basis. Your father Dell Curry was an NBA great just like you are after him, but you will not remind the poor kids at my school that they have never had such a wonderful instructor and they never will.
"And if you do ever visit my school, you also won’t mention that along with your father’s success came all the monetary rewards NONE of my students have, like three square meals a day; a full sized court and hoop in the backyard; a sense of safety; a mother and a father; top schools, top peers, and community resources. I know you might not think of it like this, but you might as well have come from another planet. But you won’t say that, will you?”
Not that Curry was planning to visit the school, where 63 percent of the predominantly Latino population is on the free and reduced lunch plan. And, if he did come, Amaral imagines that Curry would “dazzle” everyone with high fives and 3-pointers.
“But what you won’t see is the fact that most of these kids don’t have a backup plan for their dream of being you,” his blog post states.
While some commenters agreed with Amaral's point of view, he also garnered lots of criticism from those who thought he was being too negative. One woman wrote she thought the blog was "depressing."
Jenne Martinez, 15, is one of Amaral’s students, and thinks what her teacher is saying is actually helpful.
“He says that you can have dreams,” she said, “but you need a backup plan. It’s not like he’s trying to put anyone down. He’s just trying to be realistic.”
She’d like to play softball for Puerto Rico, one day. But she plans to go to college and earn a degree, perhaps in business, just in case.
Amaral isn’t sure just why this particular blog post went viral, other than that he wrote about a celebrity as the Warriors head into the NBA Finals on Thursday.
He said he’s been writing about these “invisible barriers” and “ideas of privilege” for some time.
He’s just glad that finally, his ideas are going “crazy” online and that maybe, his arguments might take hold.
“Really,” he said, “this is a repackaged post of things I have to hammer home all the time.”