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, July 14, 2006

Still Week Four, My Summer Vacation, Jefferson City, Missouri

The young lady who moved in across the street three months ago turns her porch light out whenever the action starts on Ash Street. I invited her to the block club meeting. She did not want to come. It was not her business, she told me, and it wasn’t mine either. She minded her own business and why couldn’t I. Didn’t I know I was giving the teenagers more power? Didn’t I know I was getting the police to be more violent?

“I have a videotape showing the police beating up a black man,” she said. “And there’s a man on the 200 block who is sick of all of the negative publicity this street is getting. He says he’s going to come down this street and clear all of the porches.”

I didn’t tell her this, but I really want to meet with him. If he is that powerful, can you imagine his potential as a community activist?

Even though she repeated over and over how she minded her own business she had these complaints and statements:

The college boys on the corner are drug dealers. Proof: “They had three people come to visit with them one day last week and each visitor only stayed five minutes.”

The lady next door is dangerous. Proof: “She has alligators in her backyard.” She is afraid her children who visit the alligator cage—thick plywood four feet high on her next door neighbor’s property—will fall into the cage and get hurt. (As far as we know, she has no children living with her. Or, at least, we have never seen any.)

The lady and her husband who live next door are big drug users. No proof. Just the allegation.

The dogs are too loud.

No one should be allowed to have a party on weekdays when people have to go to work. Weekends? No, there should be no parties than either.

The family across the street? No problem there. She just has troubled teenagers. No one ever causes problems from her porch. Never. “I have never seen any of this,” she said.

“Why don’t you get a job?” she screamed. I should be a missionary. No one can change anyone. Don’t the prisons prove this?

And: A final outburst directed to me and the woman across the street who never has any problems on her porch—“Mind your own business. Don’t ever knock on my door! You and you, leave me alone!”

Today the police under the Sunshine Laws are allegedly going to release information on all of the problems with 324 Ash, the porch with no problems. They already showed me the size of the file.

It’s as thick as a telephone book in a large city.


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