A Teacher's Day

The day in the life of an inner city large urban school district teacher after the high stakes testing ends and there is still three more months left before summer vacation.

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

I have taught school for over thirty years always in the inner city and for the most part always upper grade students. I have two children and I have been married for twenty years.

Friday, June 02, 2006


B. transferred from my classroom. That’s not such a big deal. A few years ago one of my students transferred after I called DCFS because her mother was selling her to old men. I caught her in the act. The next day DCFS knocked on her door and the entire family vanished out through the back. We were able to trace them to a town in Indiana where they vanished again.

Another student transferred after we were able to get her the help she needed in reading. I still can’t figure that one out. The mother came to me begging for help with her daughter who was now in the sixth grade and still couldn’t read and when I got the help she requested, the entire family vanished from the spectrum. Still no word on them.

I totally understood when one of my all time best students transferred a few years back. She had cancer in the final stages and had come to the city to get help. She had a lot of relatives in the neighborhood where I teach and this was seen as a good thing too, but the stress of living in the city was way too great on her mother. She couldn’t handle city life at all. This was making her daughter sicker faster. They went back to their small town a few states away. Last I heard, her cancer is holding steady—not getting better and not getting worse.

B. is another story altogether. She transferred to my school at the beginning of the year, stopped coming to school, transferred out of the class she was in into mine and stopped coming to school again.

During the second week of her nonattendance, her mother called the school office and asked to speak to her daughter. I had reported her absent. No, claimed her mother, she was there. Her daddy had dropped her off. The office called my room. No, I reported, she’s not here.

Later the mother called back and I was asked to talk to her. “She says she was in school today,” her mother said.

“No,” I answered, “she wasn’t here.”

“Do you know what she looks like?” her mother went on. Then she began to describe her daughter.

I interrupted her. “Of course I know what she looks like. She’s one of my students.” I take pride in knowing all of my students by name by the second day of school.

“Well, she says she was there. You must not have seen her.”

This went on and on until I finally said, “No, she was not in school today—or at least not in my classroom.”

The next day B. showed up with her father. The assistant principal walked them to my room.

“Is this the class you were in yesterday?” the assistant principal asked.

“Yes, madam,” B. answered. B. is a very proper child.

So the assistant principal asked where she sat and then has each individual who sat at or around her table come out into the hall and tell her father she had not attended school that day or any day for the previous two weeks.

Yet B. insisted. We must not have seen her. She was in my classroom. That’s her seat right over there. Everyone is telling a tale.

Her father took her home after telling me: “Give me a second with my daughter and then I’ll bring her into your class.”

The next B. sighting is two weeks later when she was actually sitting in another classroom. I had marked her absent. I asked the teacher how B. came to be in her room. The teacher informed me that the office wanted her to keep her for the day.

The next day I am called back to the office. “Why did I let the boys jump on her in class and do nothing about it?” I am asked.

This is news to me. She wasn’t even in my class. And if she had been and boys jumped on her, I definitely would have done something about it.

So the administration had to hold an investigation into the entire matter.

It’s still unresolved, but an official from the board office became involved and had to discuss the problem with me and B. and her parents. They did not attend. The investigation continues.

B. has transferred.

I hope this case is closed.


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