RSS

Tag Archives: inner-city schools

34 – Ms. Friendly’s Back…and Hey, Why Don’t You Work Here Anymore?!

No!  Don’t panic!  I didn’t ask for my old job back, but it did ask for me…(kind of)…

 

This week, my school system had two days off in the name of “Teachers-please-don’t- murder- your –students-Day”…okay…so maybe it’s not REALLY called  “Teachers-please-don’t- murder- your –students-Day”…maybe more like Fall Break.  But, whatever, it’s all the same to me!  Anywho, I had some business to attend to and that business happened to include my Fearless Leader from Ye Olde Ghetto Asylum in the inner-city.  Meaning…I would have to return to my old stomping grounds.  Whew!  My stomach was grumbling like two cats and a hyena stuck in a bag.

 

Two of my former students spotted me in the hallway, before I could even make it to the front office.  They both started giggling uncontrollably.  I gave them a hug and inquired as to what was so funny.  They shook their heads vigorously and were not able to produce a coherent response.  I made it to the office and Fearless Leader was not there; he was somewhere else in the building (apparently he leaves his office during work and walks about the school now…who knew?).  I sat in the office while I waited for him, and the word spread like wildfire…Ms. Friendly’s back!  Students were flooding the office to see me.  They came bearing hugs, smiles, and questions such as “Why did you leave us?  Are you coming back?  Where’s saneandsingle?”  I answered their questions and sent them on their way.  I was beginning to get a warm feeling inside after the welcome I received from my former students…after conducting my business with my former Fearless Leader, I decided to take the “long way out of the school.”  I ran into more students, and the reception from them was identical to the prior reactions of their peers.  “Why did you leave us?  Are you coming back?  Where’s saneandsingle?”  Then…more hugging…more squealing (OMG!  Ms. Friendly!)…more hugging.  It was like a family reunion.

 

I was nonplussed! 

 

Me: But you did everything humanly possible to place me in an insane asylum!  You barely listened to me when I was here.

 

Them: But the teachers here are boring.   Please come back!  Why did you leave?

 

Me: I don’t know…we’ll see…(Read: Fat chance!  Not as long as that man is the principal!)

 

Needless to say, I left feeling full of love and appreciation.  I think about those kids often…they have so much personality.  I wish I had a more experienced “leader” because the students suffered from the lack of administrative discipline and the eventual loss of two extremely talented teachers.  I can honestly say that I miss them because I know that they need me…however, I have teaching long enough to know that sacrificing values and personal health for others will only send one to the grave that much more quickly.   

 

Apparently I did make a difference.  Too bad the administration did not recognize my worth.

 

Advertisements
 
5 Comments

Posted by on October 24, 2008 in Work

 

Tags: , , , ,

29 – Who Killed Education?

I stayed up until 3am watching CNN’s special entitled, Black in America. My mother called to tell me about the special…she said it would be featured in two-parts and that I should check it out. Well, I did…and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since! The education portion of the Wednesday night’s special really hit home…hell, it even reminded me WHY I flocked towards that inner-city school the way in which I did. The statistics were mind boggling…the special report mentioned that Black children are, academically, the lowest achieving group in the world…in the WORLD…WOW! The report also noted that Black females make-up the majority of the African-American populace of post-secondary enrollment…Black males are more likely to drop out of school, become involved in a life of drugs, gangs, and crime…and end up in prison. WOW! Then the special featured how the plight of the black male (you know…not being educated or gainfully employed) affects the family structure and trims down the dating pool for Black females (if she’s only dating within her race)…and the stats for that…only 45% of Black females will ever get married. WOW! (I know that had nothing to do with education…more on a personal note)

Dr. Roland Fryer is a big-wig professor of economy over at THE Harvard University, and he is also the associate director of something called the American Inequality Lab (and yes, I so totally have a nerd crush on him). Fryer was featured on last night’s special due to his idea of “paying students to learn.” He feels that it will work. Fryer revealed that he grew up in an inner-city environment and claims that today’s students are not like the students of the past. He says that phrases such as, “Do your work so that you can make good grades and go to college,” mean anything anymore…he also says that today’s student (especially the inner-city student) needs a tangible incentive to get through school because they (lower-class, inner-city students) do not have the same role models that middle-class students have at home (which I guess would be their version of the tangible incentive).

The next thing I see is a group of Fourth Graders who are being rewarded/paid for making A’s on test. They receive a sheet of paper that tells them their balance…and the kids are excited. When the students are questioned about how they feel making money for studying affects them, one young man responded by saying that he felt it made his expectations for himself that much higher (I’m paraphrasing here). Reaching Out to Students When They Talk and Text discuss the idea more in depth, and while I understand the idea behind the action…I’m not so sure that what students will learn in the long-run will truly pay-off. I understand that students need to be motivated to learn, but is paying them THE answer? …Or giving them a cell phone? And I found the following quote from the article to be extremely interesting:

Mr. Klein and Dr. Fryer said they hoped that celebrities like the rapper Jay-Z, the comedian Chris Rock and the basketball star LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers would participate by sending text messages or calling students who succeed. Grades, attendance and completion of assignments will all be considered signs of success.

I find that quote interesting because a simple “Good job!” from your parent is no longer enough…a male from the ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY is now being expected to tow the line as the last hope for academic encouragement. I’m just wondering what will happen to these kids when they get out into the real world and realize that there are no rewards in college for acing an exam…there are no rewards at home for taking care of your children…there are no rewards or incentives for paying your bills on time (I don’t get discounts for that)…so, I will be extremely curious to see the end result of Dr. Fryer’s two year experiment. Also, I wonder how well this would work with drug-dealing high school students who would scoff at $25 per test…and I also wonder WHERE is this money coming from? Hey…and maybe I have no room to comment on anything like this since I had a middle-class upbringing with college educated family members, but my INCENTIVE to learn was a spanking…I didn’t want one…so I did the work, and then as I became older the spankings stopped and I understood the value of completing something via the fruits of my labor. HA! Go figure! Ideas like that are foreign and antiquated now! Now my students talk of abuse or neglect…never the middle ground where nurturing occurs…Has this also killed education?

 
5 Comments

Posted by on July 24, 2008 in Work

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

27 – Why Mechanics Should Not Perform Heart Surgery

Okay…so Tom, a reader of mine, posted the following comments (he’s always finding/asking the good stuff):

There’s an interesting discussion on Hard Times at an education blog here. Teachers who have actually been in an urban classroom were not impressed with the bloggers National Review article. (I responded to this one first)

The ed. blogger makes a poor argument which needs to be ‘unpacked’ as he so condescendingly and wonkishly put it. (I responded to this one second)

The “wonkishness” that Tom refers to is an education blogger/researcher (probably twelve years old) who writes for the National Review Online. This blogger has taken his pre-pubescent thoughts concerning Hard Times at Douglass High, and created a dismissive, snobbish, condescending, and judgmental evaluation of the teachers/administration at Douglass High. Needless to say, our Little Blogger Boy did NOT receive a warm reception from any of the commenting educators or people with the ability to think rationally (myself included).

Liam Julian, bless his heart (A Southern phrase I learned from my aunts which really translates into: What a horse’s ass), feels that the teacher’s at Douglass High just “weren’t cutting it” (Yes, I am quoting Julian). Julian goes on to lambast the lesson plan of Mr.McDermott, the 9th Grade English teacher (whom of which posts a direct response to Our Little Blogger Boy)…claiming that his writing topic was inappropriate (paraphrase). Please feast on a few more written gems from Our Little Blogger Boy taken directly from his article Liam Julian on Hard Times at Douglass High on National Review Online:

Yet this film makes clear that kindness and devotion do not great teachers and administrators make, and despite their intentions, the staff members at Douglass aren’t cutting it.”

“But some of Douglass’s staff members actually heighten the discord of their pupils’ already discordant lives. The film shows an English teacher who asks his class about people they know who have screwed up or failed. Thus, instead of having a valuable conversation about Nick Carraway’s flaws, say, or the mistakes of old men who fish for marlin, the students tell stories about relatives who are pregnant, in prison, or dead.”

Hard Times at Douglass High shows that troubled urban schools can succeed only if they’re staffed by competent people. In urban education, good intentions alone will not yield good results.”

If this is who we have to count on to forge the way for educational research, then we REALLY ARE in trouble!

***UPDATE:  This is for my disgruntled Wednesday (wdnsday) commenter! 🙂  This is my posted response to Liam Julian (click the first link to see full information).

Mr. Julian,

“Hard Times at Douglass High shows that troubled urban schools can succeed only if they’re staffed by competent people. In urban education, good intentions alone will not yield good results.”

There is nothing more unnerving than the mechanic who attempts to perform heart-surgery. As a seventh-year teacher in the public school system, I must say that I find your irreverence for the scope of my profession quite offensive. This is not a game, Mr. Julian! American education is in trouble; suburban and urban. NCLB has been fuel to the fire because our POLICY MAKERS are not educators! For you to condense the culpability of this massive issue down to one minuscule group of people shows your lack of preparedness. You should not have written your article without further research…you deserve to be torn a fresh asshole due to your pompous oversight.

There is a recipe that one should follow when engaging in the proper education of a child: parents, community, school, and policy makers. Please notice that I listed four components…four…like the number of tires it takes to support a car. It’s a machine. What would happen to your journey if one or more of those components were faulty?

I viewed that documentary, and I saw a lot more than good intentions in the works. There were plenty of competent educators who were featured on Hard Times. As an individual who has never taught, I find it rather presumptuous of you to evaluate something you know nothing of. Please keep in mind that we need solutions in order to fix this mess…people who are able to view the “big picture,” and that picture boils down to this…policy, policy, and MORE policy; after policy…parents, parents, and MORE parents; after parents…environment…THEN, maybe THEN are we able to look at what I am able to offer in the classroom.

Sincerely,
Ms. Friendly
http://www.msfriendly.wordpress.com

 
14 Comments

Posted by on July 2, 2008 in Work

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

26 – The Fast Track to Nowhere

Okay…I’m a glutton for punishment…I’m watching Hard Times at Douglass High again (Ahhh! The joy of HBO re-runs).

“No teacher will receive a proficient evaluation as long as there are a high number of failing students in their class. Whose fault is it? Certainly not the student’s.”

These words were spoken (almost verbatim) by an Assistant Principal at Douglass during a Department Head’s meeting. I don’t know how I missed that segment the first time around…maybe that was when I took the dog outside or answered a phone call.

Oh the temerity! In fact, now that I am watching this documentary for the second time, I recall hearing that very sentiment echoed by the Principal during a faculty meeting. Are these people for real?

How can a teacher be blamed for what ails each and every student…because that’s what it boils down to…she’s (the Principal) asking teachers to be responsible for students who do not attend school on a regular basis, for the parents who are unable to get their children to school on a regular basis, for students who decide to hang out in the hallway instead of come to class, for students who refuse to do their work, for students who are more concerned with gangs/drugs/the opposite sex/crime/pregnancy (take your pick)…WOW! Or more like…HELL NO! Really?

I don’t buy it. I don’t buy her concerned act anymore. The first time I watched the documentary, I was too busy “watching”…not analyzing. Anyone who says, “Grades and making up assignments are up to the teacher, but I don’t change grades…” Is announcing to me that YES, YOU DO CHANGE GRADES! In every other “normal” school I have worked, there has been a solid grading policy in place…and not even the principal adulterated that system. After I put a grade in…it was in! If you (the student) did not find my work important enough to do, then you failed and you repeated…or you PAID FOR SUMMER SCHOOL! It’s called being held ACCOUNTABLE!

Anyone ever wonder how that Fast Track deal works? What kind of message does that send, anyway? There is no Fast Track program or Blaming System in the “real world”…not for people like me. I am a law abiding, hard working, tax payer who NEVER received any Fast Track or Blaming System benefits!

My students learned how to work the system at an early age, and they will continue to work it at my expense! Whenever I have attempted to explain the importance of timeliness, integrity, responsibility…many of them remind me that they will receive a “check” and that Section 8 will cover them. They did not need to hear me extolling the importance of paying mortgage on time, a car note on time, a phone bill on time, ANYTHING on time…because it did not apply to them…they don’t see that at home…apparently, where they live, no one is being made to be held accountable for much of anything.

So, somewhere along the line the government said, “Hey, these people over here aren’t ever going to really do anything with themselves…so let’s just continue to support them (minimally)…and then maybe they will just kill each other off.” But HA! Fuck you government and taxpayers…they figured out a decade’s worth of lifetimes to live and create their own alternate reality within the current existence that the rest of the world embraces as “reality.”

Now, the government wants to penalize ALL of us by: (a) including their test tube children in the scores along with the rest of ours (NCLB), (b) doing nothing to eradicate the giant crutch they have created, (c) scaring GOOD teachers into submission of the Stepford Wives Fast Track program…everybody’s doing it…just change the grade…no one will know…who cares if those kids only read on a ninth or tenth grade level upon graduation…

I wish I had a magic wand filled with all the answers…I don’t (obviously)…but I do know crap when I see it…and I’m seeing it! I believe our education issue supersedes the realm of actual education and begins in the home and the community/society in which children are reared…maybe we do need NCLB…but for parents!

***Sidebar: Please click the link below as a personal favor.  I have constructed an eight-question “quiz” to set my reader demographics.  THANKS!!!

<a href=”http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=qsndiC9QfiCXmOioTBzs2Q_3d_3d”>Click Here to take survey</a>

 
9 Comments

Posted by on June 29, 2008 in Work

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

25 – Everything Is Equal Here

I watched a documentary that aired on HBO entitled, Hard Times at Douglass High: A No Child Left Behind Report Card Monday night, and it was like stepping back into my prior school year. The documentary chronicles a year in the life of the urban high school located in the inner city of Maryland. The school is being threatened with the potential of a state take-over due to failing test scores, poor attendance, high drop-out rates, etc.

“…The film captures the complex realities of life at Douglass, and provides a context for the national debate over the controversial No Child Left Behind Act, focusing on the brutal inequalities of American minority education, considered an American tragedy by many.”

“Brutal inequalities of American minority education…” I’m not sure how I feel about that phrase…especially after what I have experienced. I certainly will admit that there are aspects of Douglass High that lend themselves to being labeled as sub par…they perpetuate the imbalance of social and educational equity among students. However, I also believe that the failure of Douglass and other schools can not solely rely on a definition as narrow as a “brutal inequality.” The problems that educators see in schools are the same issues that students are dealing with in the streets…these kids are not leaving their personal baggage at the door before walking into the classroom because they carry too great a load.

More students experience unstable lives outside of home: teen pregnancy, drugs, alcoholism, gangs, non-traditional families where the grandparents are the parents, incarcerated parents, personal incarceration, hunger, homelessness, etc. School is a non-issue when facing the big bad of the issues I previously named.

Why read? Why do homework? Why respect teachers when no other adult has shown you any respect?

That documentary made me want to cry because I was surrounded with the memory of the despair those kids wore every morning. As one person, I could only brace myself and eventually fight to save myself…I feel like I failed them because I could not save them. And the startling aspect of my experience was the realization that many of them didn’t want saving nor did they see any reason as to WHY they should be saved. They didn’t want to function in my world…your world…our world. They perceived themselves as fully functioning beings within American society…???

That school was A LOT like my school…and believe it or not…from what was shown…those kids were better behaved! My tenth graders acted like that obnoxious boy who was always in the hall…about 75% of them acted that way. My fearless leader would NEVER make a home visit to discern the ailments of a student…he was there to collect a paycheck. I will say that ALL of our teachers were certified, save for one…and ALL of them were phenomenal people and teachers. They taught on a different frequency (kind of like incorporating a sixth sense)…the inner-city will do that to an individual.

In the documentary, there was a teacher who (after three years of teaching at Douglass) resigned in the middle of the school year. I almost left my school, too…

You know…if I were the one examining Douglass, or the inner-workings of Inner City High School USA…I would have to examine the structure of American society. Politicians say these catchy phrases to make people think that things in this world are change-able…but are they really? Were these structures set up on purpose? Are some people just meant to fail based on the unfortunate event of WHERE they were born? I mean seriously…how many thugs REALLY make it out of the ghetto?

…It’s a struggle between the powerful and the subjugated (oh…wait…that sounds a lot like Marxism)…shhhh! I really didn’t just say that because this is a democracy where everything is equal! 🙂

 
8 Comments

Posted by on June 26, 2008 in Work

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

20 – Trash, Guns, Idiot Grams, and Phucktards…Oh My!

So…this is the last week of school! YEAH! Woo-Hoo! Last week was…well…let’s just say I’m glad it’s part of the past.

1) Monday – I drove past this trash heap and watched as all my students walked past it in order to get to school…That was last week…it’s STILL THERE one week later! If that trash heap were in a suburban neighborhood, the community would be all over it! If I called and said anything about it…I would put my job on the line…but, the GOOD NEWS is that I won’t be returning so if the crap is still there tomorrow I’m going to call!

2) Wednesday – The natives began to get restless…students were walking, aimlessly, throughout the halls instead of going to class (hall monitors and our ONE Assistant Principal were trying to herd students back into classrooms). Stink bombs were detonated in various areas of the school, however, no motions were made by the administration to discover the culprit(s).

After school is when all the fun and fireworks occurred. Two male students engaged in a gun fight that is said to have been gang related. When the two young men caught wind of the fact that the “po-po” were on the way, they hopped in their respective cars and fled the scene. One of the young men was in such a hurry to escape that, in his haste, his car struck the car of a student’s parent. Realizing that he was stuck, the young man fled the scene on foot, and thereby abandoned the car.

3) Thursday – More stink bombs…A news crew came by, however, they were meet with the stony silence and solidarity that stinks of “cover-up.” No one in the front office seemed to take any of the students’ threats/plans for the last week of school seriously.“Oh, they’re not going to do anything,” or “They’re just all talk” were the responses I was met with when I named three teachers who have been targeted by my students. Where are they drawing this false sense of security from? Did they forget about Wednesday that quickly?

4) Friday – I was absent. I was experiencing breathing problems due to my asthma.

The disturbing thing about it is that one of my students had just confessed to me how her peers had been spraying perfume in my class ON PURPOSE (even after I had asked them not to BECAUSE it is harmful to people with asthma) because they thought it was funny. So…Thursday night, I was not surprised when I had, yet another, asthma attack. I immediately called for a substitute and emailed my principal (standard procedures for my school).

A colleague of mine sent me a text on Friday stating that I did not have a sub the entire day, and NO ONE in the office did anything about it!!!!! WTF? In fact, my colleague said (according to one of the students we share), the counselor came in and asked, “Where’s your teacher?” (um…HELLO…shouldn’t the principal already know the answer to that question…from his email AND the subfinder system)…the kids told the counselor, “She’s not here!” So, the counselor says, “Oh! We will have to do something about that.” Then she never returned…which meant that my classes matriculated, throughout an entire school day, in and out of my classroom with NO SUPERVISION! Students could have used my room for conception, child-birthing, drug-dealing, gambling, prostitution, personal gratification, oral sex, and a host of other things I don’t want to think of! I am glad that the education of the students mean so much to my fearless leader…his actions certainly correspond with the barrage of Idiot Grams he floods our emails with…like this one sent on 5/1/08 (an excerpt):

Also, relaxing on instruction and classroom management could make the last four weeks extremely difficult in maintaining appropriate behavior. If staff show (it should say “shows”) an indifferent attitude then we can expect some of our students to act in a similar manner. The tone you display will determine how we end this year and impact the culture next school year. If unwelcome incidents arise with students in a classroom where it is obvious there was not an attempt by staff to plan instructional activities; I will view the incident as being a result of the staff member’s lack of instructional focus and/or abandonment of expectations for classroom management. The student(s) and staff member(s) will then have to be reprimanded.

HA! HA! HA! O the irony and multiple grammatical errors …Seems like the INDIFFERENT phucktard who wrote this should follow his own advice 🙂

* See Post #3

 
11 Comments

Posted by on May 19, 2008 in Work

 

Tags: , , , , ,