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Tag Archives: dark humor

13 – What Do the Classroom and Jerry Springer Have in Common?

Thanks, Red Pill, for calling this one to my attention!

An Atlanta inner-city teacher is tag-teamed by a mother/daughter duo in an on-campus beating involving a textbook, grades, and “sporadic attendance.”

Georgia Mother and Daughter Charged in Teacher Attack – FOXnews.com

WOW!

There are sooooo many things wrong with that picture…I don’t know where to begin! Okay, so we know the basics (at least enough of what the school system is willing to divulge to the news)…allow me to offer a behind-the-scenes perspective.

On the day of the incident, Williams says the pair walked into her classroom during class and began arguing about a book.

Okay, that would be true! I have seen parents and whomever else roaming the halls as they please. In fact, TODAY marks the third time within an entire school year that I have seen the campus police. Our Fearless Leader never leaves his office long enough to know what is happening in the hallways, and if he were in the halls while an act of terror were being committed against teacher OR student…he would be of little to no assistance.

Once again, I will state this once again…There.Are.No.Consequences.

A colleague of mine has had a similar thing happen to her…she had a parent walk in to her classroom while she was teaching…and the parent began to argue with her about a progress report grade! My colleague said that she could not believe that she had to ward off a parent while she was trying to teach.  She could not believe that she was in her classroom attempting to preserve HER safety, as well as the safety of her students…moreover, she could not believe that she had to do it alone! No one came to her aid.

  • The panic buttons in our rooms are not connected to anything
  • There is no emergency attack plan that has been put into place via the Administration
  • Our cell phones do not receive any signals
  • There are no visible campus police officers
  • Most teachers have no means of which to lock their class room door (no key)

The teacher says she asked them to leave, but the mother pushed past her and grabbed a book off her desk. According to a police report, when Williams tried to get the book back, the mother pulled the teacher’s hair and threw her to the ground. Then the mother and daughter stomped on the teacher.

While my colleague got off “easy” in the end result, that was not the end of that particular parent. Recently, this parent returned to campus…to a different classroom…and discussed (with students, no less) all the types of bodily harm she planned to inflict upon my colleague. Students say the parent said,

She must not know that I will fight for my child!!!!

Yes…a PARENT said that…so now we understand where students get the idea that fighting is the only way to resolve differences.

Atlanta Public Schools spokesman Joe Manguno says Atlanta school officials have also permanently expelled the girl and ordered her to pay $500 toward the teacher’s medical expenses.

The question I have is: How many times was Ms. Williams ignored by the Administration BEFORE the Thornton Tag Team beat the crap out of her? I’m sure some types of complaint(s) or concerns regarding teacher/student safety were waged well before imminent danger approached. Also, I am as equally sure that her concerns/complaints were ignored because that’s what THIS Administration does best!

Expulsion and $500 is a slap-in-the-face to a professional! If I were Ms. Williams, I would sue that school system! That decree is not real justice because that student will be re-enrolled by next Fall and Ms. Williams probably will never see her $500.

What I am burning to know is sense when has this type of behavior become acceptable? Too much Jerry Springer? Maury Povitch? Is this a socio-economic staple? An issue of poor family structure? I would dare not say that it is an issue of race because I am a black woman…and I do not, have never, and was not raised to act in that manner…so what gives?

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2008 in Work

 

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12 – Ms. Friendly, What Grade Do You Think I Deserve?

My classroom this morning…

The sound of cell phones vibrating against desk, students yelling the lyrics of their favorite “songs,” while lacing in a few of their favorite vocabulary words …

Let me see ya make ya bootie talk

…Use ya bootie muscles…

…Shit…Fuck… (they get to curse with impunity, but I don’t)

My students are discussing the latest celebrity gossip while passing around centerfolds from their Vibe Crush magazines…they’re not doing the assigned work, which makes the preceding comments from my students all the more comical!

I was accosted with the following question, “Ms. Friendly, what grade do you think I deserve?”

I responded with, “You deserve the grade you make.”

So she reared her full weight back on to her hips…I guess I didn’t answer the question the way she wanted me to. I must admit, it was kind of difficult to take her seriously while her hairstyle resembled that of a Bird of Paradise…first micro braided, and then twisted into four corn rowed sections on the top of her head…with a smattering of blond and black chunks of highlights.

Once again she asked me, “Ms. Friendly, what grade do you think I deserve?” The emphasis was different this time.

I remained calm. First period…8:30AM…It was too early for this shit.

I responded with, “You deserve the grade you make.” …again…(I know I already said that before)

“No, but what do you think I deserve? ME?”

I sighed. Did she not get that grades are not a personal issue or a popularity game? Bird of Ghetto Paradise started a domino effect. All of the other birds in the jungle began to chatter.

I heard choruses of: “Yeah, because YOU GAVE me a 20.” “I don’t think I deserved a 78.” “She GAVE me a 54.”

I interjected, “I don’t GIVE grades! You EARN them!”

And they didn’t get it! …I have never seen a group of students who held a sense of entitlement when they have done absolutely NOTHING! The politics of inner-city “learning” is complicated because from the outside, it seems as though the kids are being educated…but if you take a magnifying glass and scrutinize the situation, you realize that those kids are just being passed along. I actually had a colleague, who has worked many years for this school system, tell me that he believes in just passing the kids along because he doesn’t want to be bothered with the obnoxious reactions of the parents. I was nonplussed. How could he confide in me such a detestable philosophy? “Teachers” like him are what makes my expectations seem so unrealistic to students.

And then there’s the administration…(you know I have to talk about them)…In this school system, a student cannot fail a class if he has not signed a notice form. When that policy was made aware to me, I thought it was a joke…or at least a soft threat with a loop hole in favor of the integrity of honest grades and real education. I had never worked anywhere that enforced such a policy as LAW, and I had worked in three other school systems before coming to this one. So when Judgment Day approached, I was ready to place all the 18, 13, 51, 32, and 6s that my students EARNED! They NEVER did any work! I emailed my fearless leader and asked, “If I have students who did not sign failure notice forms, am I still obligated to give them a 70?” He wanted to know why those students never signed the forms. I explained to him that none of the printers or copiers at the school worked…he said that that was no excuse…WTF? Hmph…my days of out-of-pocket expense for work were OVER!!!!! I explained to him that the students were SHOWN their grades, but did not have anything to sign. He told me that I had to pass them.

I then had students who had the nerve to challenge WHY they received a 70, once we all returned to school after Winter Break. I thought it was comical. The sense of entitlement was astronomical! They were under the impression that showing up to class and having a pulse would guarantee an automatic “good” grade. HA! I was more than happy to burst their bubbles and show them what they REALLY made…and WHY! Most of them were silenced into a state of embarrassment (that only lasted like five seconds)…but at least they saw what they EARNED.

But didn’t that just further feed their obnoxious sense of entitlement? Now, will they just think that some stroke of luck will always kick and save them? In my world, the grade you get is the grade you earn.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2008 in Work

 

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11 – Disturbing Observations of Student Culture

Last weekend, I was invited to the housewarming of my friend’s brother. I had not seen this particular friend in five years, and I did not know his brother…but I was still excited about the invite.

The day before the housewarming, I received directions from my friend’s cousin, and my heart almost plummeted one thousand feet into the earth…I had to take the same exit as my work exit! At that point, I was not entirely sure if the complex was located five minutes from the school…or fifteen minutes from the school…I did not want to panic prematurely, however, a bad taste was beginning to form in my mouth. I wanted to see my friend, so I had resigned myself to go.

I followed the directions, hoping that the complex would be farther off the exit than I was anticipating (I don’t know that area very well)…but I would not be that fortunate…the complex was a mere five minutes away from the school. When I turned into the complex, I saw students…I did not like that. Normally, I believe it is in best practices to socialize FAR AWAY from where students may be. When I found the building number, I noticed that everyone was sitting outside; that was strike two for me…I did not want to expose myself, like a sitting duck, to my students.

So, I attempted to try to settle into the afternoon. It was around five p.m., and people within the neighborhood where going about their business…

Disturbing Observation #1: A cute little girl, around the age of four, was running through the neighborhood unattended. “Where’s her mother?” I asked. Everyone there chuckled and replied, “At least she has shoes on today!” I was incredulous. She was running up and down the complex street, going in and out of different houses…and no one was supervising her. “That’s how little girls get raped,” I stated. Everyone nodded their heads in agreement.

Disturbing Observation #2: The little girl’s mother FINALLY makes it outside. She is “looking” for her daughter, but without any true effort. The mother is not calling her name. The mother is only walking, stumbling, along…she looked to be about seven months pregnant, MAYBE twenty-one (ish)…The mother really does not seem concerned, and I only assumed that she was looking for her daughter because I know that if it were my daughter…I would have been looking for her (for REAL looking). So, eventually, the little girl comes running out of some random apartment and into the street. The girl runs to her mother, and the mother says nothing…she does not scold or chastise her daughter for running in and out of “strange” homes, nor does she lecture her daughter about the importance of remaining in her sight at all times.

Disturbing Observation #3: There’s a teen-aged boy to the left of the town home who periodically would sit outside, look around, and then go back into his house. He had a chair set up in a nice space under a tree. In fact, his house was one of the houses that the little girl ran into. I was curious about the boy, but savvy enough to know better than to stare openly. The boy watched nothing, and yet was omniscient, simultaneously. As the afternoon wore on, the boy began to receive visitors…a motley bunch of guys who seemed to be around his age. The boys were young, some wore their hair in long spindly dreadlocks, others had their hair close shaven…they all wore extremely oversized T-shirts and jeans…one boy had on a white shirt that was so dirty that it held an orange hue…another boy wore a black shirt that had an ashen grey-like tinge…they all looked like people I would not want in my classroom…sneaking, skulking, menacing, posturing…they were up to no good!

Random people were visiting them, “dapping” them up (fist pounds), and then exiting as soon as they entered…this happened for an hour…and then the little girl…AGAIN! She zoomed in and out of houses, up and down the street of the complex, and always found her way into this busy boy-man’s house. “Is he selling drugs over there?” I asked. “They call him White Boy,” my friend replied. “White Boy? But he’s not White…he’s like mixed-race or something,” I respond. My friend laughed and shook his head. “WHITE boy…cuz he got that White.” “Ohhhhhhh!” I got it! He sold Cocaine.

Disturbing Observation #4: Around the time of my epiphany concerning White Boy’s occupational status, I notice someone in a car, who looks like one of my students. “Oh no!” I hid behind my friend, hoping my student did not see me. She lives on the other side of White Boy…opposite of where the house warming group was congregated.

Disturbing Observation #5: White Boy and his friends began to smoke weed on the front stoop of his house. “Can they do that?” I asked. My voice was full of incredulity. “Sure,” my friend responded, “Who’s going to stop them? This is a laid back living community.” …um…okay…? I immediately began to picture a police sting operation were I would be arrested upon association…Okay, NOTE: I realize that I have an over-active imagination! LOL! But I was picturing the fact that I could loose my teaching certificate by being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Disturbing Observation #6: More people are randomly coming up to White Boy. The traffic in and out of his vicinity was higher than that of an airport’s…and the little girl continued to make sporadic visits in and out of White Boy’s place. I thought it was all so very strange. It made me so uncomfortable…Something about that little girl just running around unattended, in and out of other people’s houses, truly unnerved me. Then…to add more uncomfortabilty (not a “real” word I know) to an already uncomfortable situation, I saw ANOTHER student! Okay…time to go!

…I left soon thereafter…all of that was way too much for me. Gaining that bird’s eye glimpse into what some of my students’ lives must be like…painful…because I knew that that place was not the worst place. That place was not a housing project, but it had elements and people that I never had to deal with as I was growing up…those boy-men I saw congregated around White Boy…they were headed for a life of nothingness. They all looked so angry and defeated. What they were doing was “it” for them…the height of their achievements in life…being a dope boy. They will probably go to jail, have a few children, maybe get shot, and/or shoot someone all by the age of twenty!

The little girl…will probably get raped or molested by the time she is nine…maybe have a baby by the time she is fifteen…WHY? Because no one is watching the little ones out there!…And WHY was she running from house to house? My personal theory is that she was running drugs for White Boy.

I had seen enough.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2008 in Uncategorized, Work

 

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10- Inner-City Administration Rule Book for Dummies

It’s Monday and my stomach is laden with the anticipation, anxiety and dread of another fun-filled week at work. I considered throwing myself in traffic this morning as I raced to work with the speed of an F4 tornado…funny how we race to places we never really want to be!

Jolita Berry and the Waycross, GA cases are sitting in the back of my mind…like an elephant treading on breaking ice. Jolita Berry, an Art teacher who teaches in a Baltimore City public high school, is physically assaulted by a student. Other students record the incident on their cell phones…do not try to help her…they make way for their peer to pelt their teacher, an adult, with her fists. I watched the clip in horror as students moved chairs and desks aside to make room for the fight. Ms. Berry was on the floor, squirming and wriggling like an insect caught in a spider’s web. Jolita Berry was a package of raw meat dropped in the midst of a circle of crazed wolves.

I find the public’s response to be both comforting and repulsive. You see, as an educator, I empathize with those teachers who deal with the daily disrespect of the trade…I take comfort in knowing that there are “civilian” members who support our efforts to educate the gems of our future. Then…there’s the repulsive…the people who contribute in turning our gems into bubblegum-machine-ring plastic (more on this in another post)!

Jolita Berry…what can I say? It’s true. It’s ALL TRUE! And I know you’re saying, “But you weren’t even there!” No…I was not at HER inner-city school, but I am at MY inner-city school…and there is no difference. As soon as I saw her face, heard her voice, listened to the emptiness and sorrow laced within her words…I knew her…she is me…she is every other teacher who is struggling to maintain a modicum of their dignity and humanity while trying to “educate” in a hostile environment.

The Administration? Well, let’s just say that I believe they are all given a generic handbook that pretty much says the same thing, regardless of location (and I’m talking inner-city administration here). If I were to guess, the handbook would read like this:

  • Teachers are to handle all discipline issues within their own classrooms. Teachers are NEVER to send students to the office for discipline reasons.
  • Administrators can/should threaten a teacher’s job if he sends a student to the office or locks his door after the tardy bell and requires that the student has a pass to gain entry into the classroom.
  • Administrators can/should introduce several rules, but never enforce them.
  • Administrators can/should make-up rules for the faculty as they go along.
  • Administrators can/should bully the faculty because they will listen when the students won’t.
  • Administrators can/should walk past fights, arguments, and students who are making-out in the hallway.
  • Administrators should NOT stand in the hallway during class changes because someone may want to speak to them.
  • Administrators can/should tell a teacher he is having lunch when the teacher brings a student, who has severely disrupted the order of class, to his office…and then shut the door in the faces of both the student and the teacher.
  • Administrators can/should allow students to curse, beat, and sexually harass teachers without receiving any consequences.

The world that Jolita Berry describes is a world that exists on a full-time scale. Please do not be mistaken, like some people I have encountered, in believing that her situation is an exception. Due to the lax method of “discipline, students know that they can get away with murder…Maybe that’s what it will take before the community does something to put a stop to this madness, because the Administration and Central Offices don’t care about anything but their test scores.

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/24047456/ (Jolita Berry)

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2008 in Work

 

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