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.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Last Week in July--Jefferson City, MO

It’s been a week and a day and peace has come to the college boys and the family living across the street from them. After our Ash Street meeting, we made arrangements for the college boys to meet with some of the residents on the block who were actually scared of them. Racists, really. Thought all men of color were a danger to the community.

There’s a whole lot of truth to the axiom that racists can change when they meet their fears at a personal level. After all, I myself believe most racists are racists because they are scared of what they don’t know, just plain ignorant or stupid. It’s not that hard to bring people together. Ignorance can be cured through teaching. Stupidity? That’s another matter altogether. But I was positive these racists were not stupid.

So the college boys and I went to the family across the street and spoke to them. It was a very informal meeting on the porch. They claimed the lady of the house was always calling the police on them. She said she did in fact call, but only twice. They claimed she was videotaping them from her attic. She said, No, that’s where I sometimes meditate with a small light.
One week and a day later, they are doing things together. Feeding the alligators. Helping out with the huge snakes. Even petting the dogs.

The principal of my school called me and told me how my seventh grade students did on the ISAT test. (That’s the standardized test we in Illinois have to give our students due to the No Child Left Behind Stupidity Law. Oh, oh. I think I let in some of my personal feelings.) They did very well in the science portion and almost as well in reading. Great scores. A good job. Off the charts. Etc. Etc. Etc. I feel extremely validated.

And as to the gangbangers—wannabees or not? This has been a very quiet week and a day. Getting arrested (the previous blog for those of you who want to read about it) was one of the best things that happened to me. No one—hardly anyone that is—even bothers to stir up anything on this block and now we’re even getting ready to collectively write a series of grants for neighborhood improvement and positive youth development.

It’s a hundred degrees outside and it’s almost seven o’clock. Even the breeze is hot. But who cares? Neighbors are waving to neighbors and we’re talking to each other. We’re solving problems through dialogue. We’re moving forward.


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