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Tag Archives: regular education

32 – Hay Gente Importante …And I’m Not One of Them!

Hay gente importante…pronounced (I *Hen Tay * M Pour Taun Tay)…which means…There are important people…

…and I’m NOT one of them!

I believe that I’m FINALLY getting the message…there’s no such thing as “just teaching.” Before I begin, please allow me to preface this rant by reiterating that this school is BETTER than where I came from (but so is Sasquatch’s bunghole), however the façade is beginning to crumble.

I believe in education. REALLY. I’m a nerd…I know I’ve said this before, and I mean it when I say it (proud of it, too). However, as a teacher in the urban and/or near-to-urban public school system, I believe that I am in the WRONG profession. Those people keep fucking with me! I just want to teach! I don’t want to deal with displaying their dozens and eons worth of meaningless, standards-based, data-driven posters and shit in my room! Today, a representative from the central office visited our department meeting to “warn” us that gente importante (important people) will be coming to our rooms this week in search of this paper shit on our walls. Also, said gente importante would be subject to place students under interrogation…seeking to discover the following burning academic enigmas:

w How often has your teacher incorporated writing into your lesson?

w Is your teacher preparing you for the state graduation test?

w Has your teacher demonstrated the proper method in which to structure a persuasive essay?

Never mind the fact that our school system has been in session for EIGHT DAYS!!!! This is the Inquisition. This is the delousing of a dirty whore’s crabs. This shit is for the birds! I don’t give a damn about the county and their expansive charts that cover a good four feet of wall space…what I care about is the cultivation of a positive learning environment/community within my classroom. I also care about:

w Making photocopies for students (of which is nearly impossible…13 English teachers have been allotted 1000 copies for the entire school year)

w Internet connections (so I know there’s a damn fire drill or STRANGER DANGER)

w Ability to access the school’s online grade book service (I just got a working computer in my room today)

w Student access to technology (non-existent)

w Updated class rosters w/access to student personal info…like parent’s phone number

Okay, okay…I know…I’m complaining again! But damn it…why is it so difficult to JUST TEACH? I am obviously not una persona importante!

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2008 in Work

 

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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! 🙂

 
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Posted by on June 26, 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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