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Showing posts from September, 2009

Starfish

I'm going through about four years of writing and making sure links still work, editing, etc. Only, it's really slow going because I didn't realize how emotional is would still be for me.

Some of it I really miss. I miss beautiful, funny, intelligent students who are just starting to think critically like this girl. I miss funny stories with deeper meanings about how the kids think I'm black. I miss their amazing descriptive writing - how do you beat "My dog smells like junk"? Oh, and crackers sound like rocks when they break; have you ever noticed? I miss students being able to come into my classroom in fourth and fifth grade to visit. Or coming to visit from middle school or high school. I miss the incredible relationships that can happen with students' families regardless of all socioeconomic and racial differences only after they really really get that I love their kids.

Some of it is a relief. I'm not tired all the time. (Well, I am becau…

Letter to a Juvenile Delinquent

Dear "Jorge,"

I've known you since you were 8 years old. You have always been a very special kid and there are many people who love you and want to help you. Your second grade teacher cares very much about you and put you in my class specially because she knew that you were a smart, good kid and she believed in you. You were the only kid in my third grade class who I gave my phone number to because I trusted you and I wanted to help you if you were in trouble. Both Mr. Smith and I love you like you were our own kid.

I know that you're really really angry right now and you feel out of control and like nothing is fair and like you're going to explode. You have seen some horribly messed up things and you had a lot of time when you were just a little kid and no one was taking care of you. Nobody should have had to live through some of the things you've lived through. We can't change that. But right now, there are people who want to help you and you won&…

Oh, another example

I can't believe I almost forgot the best guilt-inducing story!

Well, first there's my personal one about being very very sick.

Then there was a coworker of mine. Really good teacher and experienced. She cared about her kids. When she'd have to take time off (which was rare) she was very well-prepared and made sure the kids had the best possible experience.

Her mother-in-law, with whom she was extremely close, was horribly burned in a house fire. The teacher flew back East to be with her, which was the right thing to do, especially as the burns turned out to be fatal. A pretty horrible way to die, and she lingered for a few days in massive pain. The teacher called the principal and explained the situation and how important it was that she be there for her funeral, and how upset she was. The principal assured her that nothing was more important than family and that she take all the time she need. He/she (don't want identifying factors! I've only had 8 principal…

Ouch

I tore a muscle (coughing) in my side so this won't be long. But it reminded me of trying to teach on crutches. I sprained my ankle in my 5th year teaching and had to be put on crutches for a few weeks. I didn't get workers' comp even though it happened at school because it was my own dumb fault. I tried my best to teach on crutches (almost impossible to teach 3rd grade on crutches). I took as few days off as possible.

However, one should never underestimate the guilt trip potential of educational administrators. If you're sick and you take a day off, you are sometimes told to get better but more often than not asked if you're really sick and if you really need that time off. (people in other districts have experience with that or no?)

So, I tried to schedule all my doctor's appointments for after school but of course we had meetings. So sometimes I had to choose between missing school and missing a meeting (always miss the meeting if possible). Which th…

Tragedy

Another killing in this city.

Which by the way, lasted one day on the front page. Really? I'm sorry to continue sounding cynical, but if this had been a white 17 year old girl it would still be on the front page and people would be shocked. But then, if Hurricane Katrina had hit a mostly white area, that would have been dealt with differently as well.

If it gives me any more credibility, up until I began to work in the inner city I would have been adamant that race had nothing to do with media coverage and that people didn't value black kids less. I think I was wrong.

I have advice for anyone who's going to tell me that race has nothing to do with media coverage and people don't value black kids less, or any version of of course she was killed, what was her family thinking living there (yes, people say that, like she deserved it).

My advice:

Don't open your mouth if you have no experience with it.

He Ain't Supposed to Be in My Class

Actually, it was "He ain't posta be in my class," but that looks a little confusing until you read it aloud.

The segregation stories of today are about tracking. If you aren't in the education field, you may be unfamiliar with tracking. It can either refer to tracking kids by ability: the college prep track, for example, or by some other means, often language. The laws now on who can have their children educated in which language in California are very complicated and I don't pretend to understand them. Although I don't believe that Ron Unz, who started the instruction in English-only thing resulting in Prop 227 knows anything about elementary education or bilingual education. But I digress.

The school I worked at used to be severely overcrowded, resulting in roving teachers, and students without assigned classrooms. Only 3/4 of the school was in session at any one time, and 1/4 of the kids didn't have an assigned classroom, but used whichever classro…

Segregation in the Schools

I recently heard a woman interviewed on the radio. I forget her name, but she was part of the Little Rock Nine - the group of students who were the first black students at Little Rock Central High School and the subject of many protests and threats. I knew that the US National Guard was sent to protect the students, but I hadn't realized that the Arkansas National Guard was first deployed to keep them out of the school, until Eisenhower sent the US National Guard. I can't imagine what it must have been like to try to go to school and have one set of troops trying to keep you out and another trying to get you in.

But I can imagine segregated schools. Actually, I don't have to. I worked at one for 8 years. In California. In the 21st century. It wasn't segregated by law; it was what is called de facto segregation. Or to quote the students, "Ain't no white kids." They didn't mean just in the school, they meant ain't no white kids anywhere nea…