19 -Idiocracy

14 May

MY students are the people who travel to the rich people malls and steal from them. I’m hearing their stories now and I’m incredulous and disgusted. Why am I so surprised? …Damn…I think I’m even hurt a little bit…WTFrench Toast? Maybe I wouldn’t feel so “betrayed” if it weren’t my “good” girls talking about doing it…okay…I am just going to have to focus on the end-of-the-school-year-no-more-Junkies-R-Us-High-School countdown. I have to get out of here. Coming here was a mistake. I can’t believe I actually thought I could make a difference.

There is way too much dysfunction in one place! This school should be given the title of a functional and operational Idiocracy…I swear…teaching here (and in general) has been a living testament of birth control for me…I want NO children of my own! You know, the irony is that the very people who have no business with children are the very people who end up with a gaggle of them (see the movie Idiocracy). My cousin and I were having this discussion the other day…

Although neither one of us are parents, both of us parent on a frequent basis; she is a social worker and I, a teacher. Both of us usually encounter the young, acquiescent, and self-absorbed parent who has no clue as to what DISCIPLINE looks like. Often times, the parents I encounter do not know how to be RESPONSIBLE for their child…and by responsible I mean making them come to school on time, complete their homework/projects, tell parents who their friends are, adhere to a curfew, revere adults and address them with respect, remain in “a child’s place” regardless of their age, maintain good grades and behavior, expect a post-secondary education…

I’m talking about the making of a fully functional and productive American citizen!

I once had a parent/teacher meeting…many years ago…with the parent of teen who was just beginning high school. This “young man,” within the first three months of school, had found and befriended THE WORST students of the school (gang members and overall generic brand delinquents)! I told the parent as much…in fact, I told his mother, “If you do not watch your son and the company he keeps, he will end up in jail! It’s not too late to save him!” She cried and made excuses for him. The counselor looked at me as though I had grown a third head (I guess I wasn’t supposed to be THAT honest). I call them as I see them, and my first and foremost concern is the welfare of the student…I could really give a damn about proper politics if those politics do not serve the student first! By the time I left that school, his behavior had become worse…and now, of course, I don’t know what has become of him. Patrick Welch, the young man in the following article, reminds me of the student I once taught…

Forest Hill Academy: The Children Left Behind

How can education thrive when students like him exist…but more importantly…how is a child expected to learn without the proper encouragement from his parents/guardians?

A teacher cannot be mother, father, administrator, counselor, and still have the where-with-all to teach a course subject!

A judge in Cincinnati jailed a father for not following court orders to see that his daughter attained her General Equivalency Diploma (GED). There are many people who disagree with the judge’s decision…I am not one of those people. More court judges are needed to send the message to parents that their children’s education is just THAT important! Perhaps if parents knew the possibility of imprisonment existed for poor parenting, then they would be more vigilant (and take their role more seriously) from the onset…maybe then, there would be no need for alternative schools.


Posted by on May 14, 2008 in Work


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12 responses to “19 -Idiocracy

  1. L

    May 15, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    I work at an elementary school in the inner city and I’m trying to make a difference early. The biggest problem I see is one that goes the the core of human nature. My students do not know how to walk away from a conflict. If someone says something about their mother, let’s say, that child will ignore all the rules, ignore the teacher supervising them, and start a fight. I have been amazed at this difference between my own children and these children I teach. When I talk to them about their actions, they say that their mother has told them to fight anyone who talks bad about them! I would never endorse fighting with my own children unless they were defending themselves physically. AMAZING! This is a core problem with society in my city. There are so many gun murders in this city each day that I have stopped watching the news. These young parents do not know the basics of raising children because, I’m guessing, they were not parented themselves. They also are not being taught the value of working hard for something you want, or the lessons of their ancestors who have overcome so much hardship and discrimination. It is a shame they can’t feel the pride of the people who came before them who were survivors and heros. just my opinion.

  2. Kevin

    May 16, 2008 at 3:23 am

    Wonder, is this mostly an issue of broken families & irresponsible young single mothers, and deadbeat dads? Or do you see 2-parent nuclear families that are just as incompetent?

  3. msfriendly

    May 16, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    L…you state your opinion so succinctly! I agree with you 110%! I see the same things and am told the same things when I try to intervene in what I see as “their” world; I share the commonality of skin color with my students…but it stops there…I don’t understand anymore of the madness after that, which is why I think this issue is one of social class. It saddens my heart…and I, too, have thought that the lessons of OUR ancestors (as Americans regardless of color)…would be enough to feed them and send them off in a more positive direction. That was THEN…this is NOW! Now I know how ugly the everyday reality of their lives are, and violence seems to be the language they speak best. I went there wanting to help…to save…but now I know that in order to save MYSELF, I must run away because that lifestyle…the guns, drugs, teen pregnancy, broken homes, illiteracy, fighting, etc makes me physically ill…for the first month of working there, I would get in my car and cry the entire 40 minutes home (and I don’t cry easily). I think your opinion is dead-on. Thanks!

  4. msfriendly

    May 16, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Kevin…the issue in the inner-city is deeper than all of that! I call it the “can’t do” mentality! It is a result of no formal education…and relying on the government for hand-outs. The sense of entitlement in the inner-city is astronomical! My students feel that they are OWED everything, but should have to DO nothing!…and it far surpasses the normal angst of teens…African-American families are, statistically THE most broken families because the males are in jail or (if you check post 17) dying of AIDS….okay, okay…I know it sounds all doom and gloom, but…well…it IS! What I am STILL trying to figure out is WHY!!

    Yes…I have encountered two-parent situations that I thought were lacking…but….MAINLY young single-mothers and single GRANDMOTHERS! I run into that A LOT…single grandmothers who are raising the children of their irresponsible children, and making THE same mistakes with their grands that they made with their own children! HA! Go figure!

  5. tom

    May 17, 2008 at 3:47 am

    Ms Friendly – fascinating but grim reading. I agree with Kevin that what say needs to be told and you have the writing talent.

    I found your blog via Will Okun’s posting in the NYT – and it’s interesting that he is becoming gradually less ‘liberal’.

  6. msfriendly

    May 17, 2008 at 4:45 am

    Tom…Grim and real rolled into one! I still I say I wouldn’t believe it if someone told me. Thank you soooooooo much for the compliments; I have a few close friends of mine who are trying to get me to consider a book…I’m just basking in the fact that the public is with me on this one – I wasn’t sure that anyone would care. Thank you for your support! 🙂

    And as for the becoming-less-‘liberal’ thing…I must say that I am beginning to catch that bug (never thought I would say that)! This job will cause the best of us to shed our liberal notions!

  7. L

    May 22, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Ms friendly,
    I just started teaching this year in Oct. So I am a first year teacher. I hope I can find some hope in this massive school system. You spoke of grandparent raising their childrens kids… Around Feb, while doing valentine with my kids, (I am a support teacher) one little 3rd grade boy was hiding what he was drawing from me. At the end of class I let everyone show their valentines. He had written on his card, “You are like a mother to me. I wish you were my mother.” When I asked his homeroom teacher about his family, I was told that his mother is not in the picture, his dad is in jail, and his dad’s parents are raising him. I wanted to go get that little guy and take him to the movies with my own kids that weekend. So sad. He is doing well so far.
    Another problem I see in my city: beating is rampant in these homes. I hear at least once a week of one of my kids getting “whipped” because of a bad grade etc. One boy described how his dad got him out of the tub wet and whipped him with an extension cord.
    My friend who works at another elementary school here, has seen so many bruises and cuts on kids that they told her were whippings. It happens regularly. So the discipline is not working because obviously they are still getting in trouble. I suspect that there is much yelling and fightign and violence going on in these homes. I suspect that most of these kids are not shown the real unconditional love of a parent. ever. So they are not having basic needs met. This is why they are having so much trouble not reacting every time somone looks at them the wrong way. They react out of fear and anxiety. But my main point I guess is that beating is a common occurance in these homes. It is not wonder violence is happening. and to top it all off, my district only did away with corporal punishment a few short years ago, and they are thinking of bringing it back because the schools have gotten worse.

  8. msfriendly

    May 22, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    L – WOW!!!! Yes…I have so many students I wish I could take home as well, which is THE largest reason why I have to leave (it breaks my heart)…the system I work for does not seem interested in REALLY doing something about the lacking QUALITY of education. I speak a lot about discipline because (from my experience) without it…there is no education! Discipline is NOT what you described…that’s CHILD ABUSE! There’s a huge difference between being beaten and spanked…or just plain old punished or restricted…what I’m REALLY talking about is setting PARAMETERS…a measure of self-control and restraint. I realize that some…or many…of the parents of many of my inner-city students are incapable of providing lessons of that nature because they have yet to master it themselves.

    …But I certainly am not talking about beating the shit out of someone as a means of teaching a lesson or garnering respect…because you’re right…I see those same eyes of suspicion from my high school kids…and they are always EXPECTING a harsh word when sometimes I’m giving a hug (yes…Ms. Friendly gives hugs to those “babies” because they need it most).

    And as for the corporal punishment thing…um…I think that’s a horrible idea! I’m not beating anybody else’s child! I’m momma enough as it is! I do not agree with that idea because this society is not open to it and it will only cause more teacher deaths and beatings by the hands of parents and guardians.

  9. Zelda

    August 28, 2008 at 5:27 am

    Thank you for your perspective on the system however disheartening it is.
    As a parent I have had quite an experience with the system in a truly negative way.
    When my son was in 7th grade , yes 7th (age 12) he was found with an empty dime bag of marijuana .
    We went through the Discipline Tribunal trail and my son was reassigned to another public middle school in the system. That school had had 3 felony weapons discipline charges among other disciplinary charges as well as being a lower performing school not maintaining AYP.

    The other decisions we agreed with i.e. suspension and the MACAD program but what is the reasoning behind taking a 7th grade honor student from his home school and sending him to a school in the same system, on the other side of the city where according to the demographics he would have been the only child of his race. No ,it wasn’t an alternative school it was just another public middle school.
    What’s worse is the Board of Education approved this decision made by the Tribunal committee.
    Did I mention my child was 12, did he make a stupid mistake, yes, Did we make a stupid mistake thinking drugs were just a high school issue, yes. Needless to say we are much more attentive to his actions now.
    My point however is the punitive punishment and the severity of the punishment for a first time offence and the fact the Board Of Education approved this decision.
    Needless to say he has no interest in school now and his grades reflect that.
    So it’s not always the parents fault. How would you feel if you were thrown away which is exactly how I feel my child was treated.

  10. msfriendly

    August 28, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Zelda…First of all, I would like to begin by saying that I recognize the pain that you and your family are undergoing due to this issue.

    Do you realize how serious of an issue drug/weapon possession is in general (those are THE biggest deals in school)…let alone in a school? Do you also realize that, had he been a few years older, that your son would have been transferred to JAIL and not another SCHOOL clear across town; you got off easy. Take this opportunity of kept freedom and use it as a learning experience.

    The school board did not put your child in this predicament. Your child put HIMSELF in this predicament. I am not saying this as a way to beat either of you up or shame you…but to illuminate the need to take responsibility for your actions so that you truly learn from them the first time around. I am this hard on myself, too…it keeps me honest.

    The real world doesn’t care about first time offenses or age…This is time where you all pick up the pieces, build his little self-esteem back up (yours too) and keep on truckin’!!!!

    Good Luck 🙂

  11. madison

    September 29, 2008 at 11:05 am

    I love your blogs but I don’t think being a teacher means that you “parent” everyday. Parenting is a full-time job. Really, I do sympathize with you and I know there are many imperfect parents, but I do not agree with that statement. And a social-worker! I was so astonished at that comment, I nearly fell off my chair.

  12. msfriendly

    October 15, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Madison…Thank you for visiting my blog and thank you for telling me how much you love reading! Please keep reading! And as far as parenting is concerned…yes…I do have to offer many of the more emotional characteristics of parenting to the TYPE of students I teach. I have purchased deodorant, lunches, given rides home, assisted in the paying for of prom dresses, prom hair styles…given soul-searching advice, etc. I could continue to list the nature in which I or collegues I have worked with have had to parent a student. It is parenting because those are things parents ought to be doing…but “we” (teachers) are doing them instead. No…I do not mean that I have taken on the FULL responsibility off one of my students…but teaching the TYPE of students I have taught vastly differs from the TYPE of student I was in high school. I had all the tools I needed…my teacher never said a word to me that was outside of his/her lesson…these kids are different. They need everything! EVERYTHING! These kids are so needy…it’s unbelievable…I feel sorry for them, but that’s the way it is.

    But…if I weren’t in Education, I would never believe it myself. Really, I think it depends more on the population and TYPE of students who are being taught. Inner-City students, and students who come from low socio-economic backgrounds generally require MORE from a teacher than just a academic lesson.

    Anywho…that’s my take on it. Thanks again for stopping by!


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