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19 -Idiocracy

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.

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Posted by on May 14, 2008 in Work

 

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18 – “D-Day” is Near!!!

There are two more weeks left in the hole and I can’t believe that I have survived…however it seems as though the REAL test will be surviving the last week of school! Apparently, the students at this school have a tradition of waging war by use of “weapons of mass destruction”…Clorox-filled water guns, paint-filled balloons, and water balloons…they are also planning to fight, fight, fight!

According to Upperclassmen, this day is real and this day should be taken seriously! A few concerned seniors have told me that they plan on wearing hobo-esque clothes, plastic bags over THOSE clothes, shower caps over their hair, and goggles over their eyes…WOW! They said that last year’s principal ate a “paint-balloon sandwich” and was WEARING the paint that one of the student culprits threw. OMG!

“Were these students reprimanded?” I asked.

The seniors laughed, “Ms. Friendly, please! Remember where we are? NOBODY is EVER reprimanded! The principal just went home and changed his clothes.

“So…nobody stopped the children from destroying the school?”

“Yeah, they turned the water off to the school and banned students from going to the bathroom so that they would not be able to put anymore water in the balloons or guns…but some parents called and complained and they had to turn the water back on.”

HA! Parents called and complained about the water but completely ignored the fact that their kids were fucking up the school! …Typical…Ignoring the more poignant issue at hand. And the school…why weren’t the campus police notified? Why were students allowed to create total anarchy on campus?

…So, needless to say, I am REALLY looking forward to the upcoming last week of school. However, most students say to me, “Ms. Friendly, you ain’t got to worry cuz you cool…but Mr. Bite-Sized Teacher (he’s REALLY short)…yeah…we gone git dat ass so he best not come to work.”

…So this should make me feel better…right…?

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2008 in Work

 

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17 – Underprivileged and Oversexed

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth…I think this guy is SICK (in EVERY sense of the word)!

As he speaks, he warns his viewers that he is going to announce names…names of the people he has PURPOSEFULLY infected with HIV…the muscles all over my body tense. Why? I know that he’s not going to call my name. But what if he calls the name of someone I actually know? Ugh!

…And then it is roll call…fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen-year-olds…he names virgins…males…he is indiscriminate as to how he spreads his liquid hatred…I am incredulous…my bones are trembling beneath my skin…this has touched me, and not much does these days…

Then I began to THINK about what he was saying…albeit sick, disgusting, uncomfortable, etc. to face…what he is saying (his reasoning) needs to be dissected because I have teen-aged students, nieces, and cousins whom of which I would never want to encounter the likes of this “man.”

As a teacher, I hear “talk.” Yes, the kids think I’m too old to know what they’re talking about…but most times (in this inner-city environment) they have no reverence for my age because their mother is my age, too…which is too young to have a teen! Their mother is their “friend”…or something of that strange sort. Where I teach, girls get pregnant and have babies like I refill my monthly allergy prescriptions! And the thought always crosses my mind…Why didn’t they use a condom before having sex? In fact, I remember a male student of mine asking me why I did not have any children…I explained that I was waiting for marriage. He looked confused…VERY confused! Then he said, “You wait, one day it will just happen.” And I said, “This is 2008! There’s no reason as to why something like that should just happen! Catch my drift?” He nodded and looked away. That was the end of that conversation.

These girls are LUCKY to only get pregnant and not contract any of the other sexually contactable and non-returnable goodies…and by non-returnable I mean that there is no pill, powdered drink, or salve that will return that bad decision-made-tangible to the clinic! My students talk about the sex they have with their boyfriends…who are oftentimes GROWN-ASS MEN…I had a student proclaim, in the middle of class, “Ms. Friendly, I’m a hoe! You wanna know how many n***s I done fucked?”

Another student, on Valentine’s Day said, “I love my man cause he pays for all of my abortions and then he takes me to Red Lobster.” …Her “man” is twenty-six and she is fifteen, the same age as the prior student I mentioned.

I have a male student who pretends to like girls, but REALLY like boys…in fact, he prefers GROWN MEN! He told one of my colleagues, “I can’t take being around you anymore because I really want to fuck you.” My colleague, of course, called the student’s mother for a parent/teacher conference. The mother said, “Sometimes *Steve doesn’t come home at night because he is spending the night with strange men.” Oh my God! And she knows this?

So what happens when/if one day these kids ever come across the likes of this HIV-spreading sicko?

As a community of parents and teachers, I believe we must do a better job of providing REALISTIC information for teens about sex. Not that crap about: Don’t do it! That shit may have worked for me because…well…have you met my family? (lol) But not everyone has a family unit like the one I grew up with…real talk. And if we want to keep these kids safe (and I do), then we have got to learn how to talk to them…REALISTICALLY!

This sicko says that it is the ghetto, inner-city mentality of wanting a man with an expensive car, money, and nice clothes that gave these people HIV…not him. He claims that these girls gave themselves, without abandon, for want of the material…and I understand what he is saying…and what if those same girls had better self-esteem, role models, goals…something else to set their sights on other than the attainment of a guy in a Jaguar?

Okay adults…I am giving you some homework here. Refer back to post #9, note the picture…the theme…get your head out of your ass and TALK to your kids; It may save their life one day!


 
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Posted by on May 5, 2008 in Work

 

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16 – Would You Answer This Ad?

Would you answer this ad?

NEW ORLEANS — Wanted: Idealistic teachers looking for a Peace Corps-style adventure in a city in distress.

I know…I know…It sounds good, but don’t believe the hype! “Adventure” is quite a stretch in the use of euphemism. My experience has been anything short of an “adventure.” When I think of the word “adventure,” I think of fun on the tangy side!

Besides…anything that is described as a “Peace Corps-style adventure”…yet takes place in America…sounds scary to me!

Norman Smith III, recruited to Rabouin High, said he wanted to make a difference in the lives of kids wary of authority and uncertain of their potential. It has been tough at times, he said.

Smith is right…and tough is understatement! Finding QUALIFIED teachers who are willing to commit to such conditions is close to impossible. The school where I teach employs recruits from Teach for America. One stipulation of TFA is that the candidate must commit to one school site for two years…and before being placed at the school site, TFA candidates are given a summer-long crash course in teaching.

When I first met the TFAers in orientation, I took one look at them and thought Oh…You’re going to be eaten alive! Ironically, it has been the veteran teachers who have had more problems than the TFAers…granted, the vets are equipped with the teaching experience…but the TFAers have the magic ingredient – IDEALISM!

The two TFAers I work with are phenomenal people who (I think) will take their experiences at this hell hole and (hopefully) make a larger mark on the world…but they won’t stay in the field of teaching. Idealism is plentiful when you know it has a shelf-life! I hope this place does not suck them as dry as it has sucked me.

Many of the schools inherited by the state were run down even before Katrina, plagued by leaky roofs, lead paint or poor heating systems. Many of the students are indifferent to learning or are far behind, with some freshmen unable to read and some teenagers disappearing for days. Some have been arrested for fighting with each other or beating up security guards. Some schools lack classroom supplies.

Save for the lead paint, the school mentioned in the above quote sounds like a shoe-in for where I work. From my perspective as a vet, there’s not enough IDEALISM in the world to convince me that this situation is acceptable…especially since I know that this school system has recently received largesse from a wealthy philanthropist (to the tune of $3 Billion)…no school in this school system should be without anything, and our security systems should be tip-top! I feel like I work in a third world country.

At Rabouin High, which has about 600 students, the halls echo with the shouts of teenagers who should be in class. Many have to share textbooks, if they have them at all. Doors lack knobs or, in the case of a girls’ bathroom, don’t close completely. Students have to pass through a metal detector to get inside, and guards patrol the halls.

You would almost have to see it with your own eyes to believe it, but YES! IT IS TRUE!!! If someone told me, a year ago, that a school like where I work exists, I would never believe them. This is real, folks! In fact, it is so real it makes me wonder why politicians don’t take more interest in the welfare of education, or why the N.A.A.C.P. doesn’t pick up this cause…a REAL cause (more to come on that topic)!

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2008 in Work

 

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15 – A Piece of Humble Pie

I almost walked out yesterday.

I have never taught somewhere and felt the urge to just grab my belongings and leave…I am not a quitter, but I am not a masochist either!

I looked around the pandemonium of what was doubling as a “class” and “students”…and I just could not take any more of the loud noise (louder than a seven-year-old’s birthday party at ChuckE Cheese), I could not take anymore of the “chemical warfare” (students repeatedly spraying perfume in the air), I could not take any more of the extreme disruptive behavior (students yelling obscenities, hitting each other, mocking each other, the extreme horseplay, and NEVER doing any work)…everything is a joke to them!

I hated them ALL! Then…I went by the Spanish teacher’s room; there’s something about that woman that always puts me in a better mood…she has a wonderful way with the kids and her humor is as dry as the Sahara (my kinda gal)…so I went by for a little escapism. We discussed the ins-and-outs of making churros (very intellectual) until a former student of hers stopped by to visit.

I had never noticed her before; she was one of our school’s up and coming 2008 graduates…she looked twelve! I mean…seriously! Sometimes, the seniors don a superficial “look” of maturity, but this young lady did not.

“I don’t think I’m going to be able to go to prom,” she stated rather matter-of-factly to La Professora. She didn’t sound all angsty like most teens would. It was a statement. In fact, it was the un-angsty-ness of her voice that made me look at her…REALLY look at her. She was wise beyond her years and she wore all of her wisdom in the deep, mysterious onyx pools of her eyes. Her eyes told the tale of a girl far older than the age of eighteen. She began to weave her tale as to why she may be missing prom and why she had missed the last three weeks of school.

Her mother had been very ill and she was responsible for taking care of her mother, Sara* continued…she said her mother had Cervical Cancer, Bells Palsey, and Rheumatoid Arthritis…and her mother is only thirty-six! WOW! Then Sara said that due to the severity of her illnesses, her mother has been preparing her and her two younger sisters for her possible, impending death.

Oh…but WAIT…it gets worse!

Sara has to move out of the three-bedroom apartment she shares with her mother, step-father, two younger sisters, a dog, and a cat…their rent is subsidized so they only pay $87.00…and Sara says that the Section 8 Housing reps make regular check-ups to ensure that no one eighteen or older is living in the apartment while not either in school or employed. Currently, Sara is neither of the two.

After that, my ears were lit with information I never knew any eighteen-year-old to know of…Sara’s biological father is in jail, soon to be released – he was incarcerated because he snapped the neck of a man who was in the act of attempting rape on Sara. Sara said that her father will be released within one month. Sara spoke very strongly of taking care of her family and assuming her mother’s role as caretaker…she admitted that she has already stepped in several times (unbeknownst to her mother) and provided monetary largesse. Sara said that between the ages of thirteen and fifteen, she sold drugs and would place a large percentage of her earnings in her mother’s purse when her mother was not paying attention…Sara said that it was easy for her to get away with selling drugs when she was younger because police officers never took her seriously…she said she looked nine or ten when she was thirteen.

As the tales of her enthralling life began to wind down, and the time for the end school approached, I asked Sara the one question that was burning within me.

“In retrospect of everything you have said here today about your life…How does education fit onto your list of things-that-are-important?”

She did not hesitate to answer, “Education is my only way out. I will be the only person in my family, except for my younger sisters, to graduate from high school and get a diploma…And I don’t plan on stopping with that! After getting my diploma, I want to go to massage therapy school, and then to college to get my degree.”

I nodded my head in silence. I was humbled by the tone of motivation I detected in her voice…she reminded me of WHY I wanted to work in the inner-city. I wanted/expected to meet students like her…people who WANTED help to help themselves. Sara is the anomaly.

…And to think I thought I had it bad…

*Names have been changed to protect identity.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2008 in Work

 

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14 – Dorothy, We’re Not in Kansas Anymore!…Or Are We?

8-year-old arrested, accused of hitting teacher

HA! They get younger and younger! However, that’s the thing I think many parents do not recognize…teen and adolescent behavior is a direct reflection of early childhood rearing. I hear so many of my students say,

“My mama can’t tell me what to do!”

“I drink with my mama.”

“I hit my mama.”

“I ain’t never had no spanking.”

“My mama ain’t never beat me.”

“My mama beat me with (fill in the blank)”

…and I teach high school…

“Little” eight-year-old Deshawn Williams got into a physical altercation with another classmate over a box of crayons…apparently chairs became projectile objects, classmates were hit, and the teacher was struck in the face when he did not get what he wanted. Deshawn ended up in the back of a police car, while wearing the latest fashion the penal system had to offer – handcuffs!

The thing I find most disturbing about this story is what Granny Dorothy had to say about her grandson’s behavior:

  • “He gets very upset and he loves to hit,”
  • “If he was overpowering her that much, I feel like she shouldn’t be in that line of work,”
  • “If she can’t deal with him, put him in someone else’s classroom. If it’s a male, whatever, and let them restrain him,”

And obviously, we really are NOT in Kansas anymore, Dorothy!

I wonder if Granny D is familiar with the other “D” word?

Discipline! Whatever happened to good old-fashioned discipline? Permissiveness (sorry Dr. Spockers) and child abuse are obviously NOT what I’m suggesting because the two are so far from discipline. It is evident, from the behavior of my students, that their parents never provided discipline. Perhaps some of their parents abused them…slapped them around and inducted them into the world of hard knocks…perhaps their parents were absentee…either way, this type of faulty parenting is like a medieval scourge descending upon our society! Soon enough we will be living a rendition of Lord of the Flies…no adults and every child for himself.

Alas! There is something else that is bothering me about this particular case in light of all the newly surfaced stories of juvenile anarchy…this Deshawn kid attends an “exceptional school,” which means that his behavior could be a tad bit excusable if there are considerable emotional disabilities involved.

  • Why was he arrested and not the kid who attacked Jolita Berry or the kid who attacked Felecia Williams?
  • Should allowances be made for Deshawn Williams if he is truly emotionally disturbed?
  • Do parents realize how many Emotionally and Behaviorally Disturbed (EBD) students are mainstreamed into the regular education classroom with their student due to No Child Left Behind?
  • Do parents realize that the regular ed. teacher is not fully equipped to handle the outbreaks of these students…and therefore, instruction suffers because the regular ed. teacher spends 80% of valuable instruction time “putting out fires?”
  • Do parents realize that the special education staff is often times over-worked, and are not always going to be present in a student’s class to offer assistance (assistance they are not highly qualified in)?

Oh my…I think I’m airing all the dirty laundry…and boy is it dirty…

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2008 in Work

 

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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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