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.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Third Week of Summer Vacation

I guess you have to be here. Troy, the alleged founder of the Corner Boyz, walks from block to block like he’s lost. Not lost in thought. Not lost in a brilliance of ideas. Just lost. The next door neighbors come out at night like vampires—only they appear in the day, too, sometimes, so we know they’re still human. It’s quiet during the day—the gangbangers walk from block to block, the sun hurting everything (it’s that hot), and everyone of the teenagers seem homeless.

At night—every night—the neighborhood wakes up. But it’s very localized now. Everything turns on one porch. I wrote a letter to the editor explaining the principle’s of association. You know the saying: If you run with garbage, you begin to stink. If your friends are thieves, people believe you are a thief. If you hang out with the whores, it’s not a far reach to believe you, too, are a whore.

Officer Clark of the Jefferson City Neighborhood Patrol was called to our next door neighbor’s porch. Windows are being knocked out of vacant homes and she wanted him to know it wasn’t her family. Unfortunately, I heard her tell the manager of one of these buildings that it was her family and that she knew who else was involved and she would give them up to him on Thursday. Officer Clark told us a lot of the gangbangers think of our neighbor as “Mom.” But they never call her that. They curse and constantly disrespect her. They never offer to help her when she has to get a cab to go and get groceries. Some of them do drive, but they never take her anywhere. “Mom” she isn’t.

Thursday came and went with only the usual noise from next door. And the one not so nice noise when the mother of a twelve year old would not let her daughter back into the house until she hammered at the door for almost forty-five minutes. By the way, it was already 1:45 AM. None of this can be construed as normal.

Last night I had to go out at 3:00 AM and ask for a bunch of teenagers to please move from in front of our house. One of them said, “I live right there.” Another grabbed him by the arm and told him where I lived. Then he changed his story, but no one moved. There was a party on the corner at the college boy’s apartment. I went there and they got the teenagers to move.

One of our neighbors who works past midnight told us she is not afraid of the teenage boys who sit on that porch. She’s afraid of what they say to her. Things like, “Wouldn’t you want a piece of that---“ and “I bet she has some moves on her” and “I wonder what white --- tastes like.” She has complained to the police who have asked her to purchase pepper spray. Then they said: “If you don’t like living here, why don’t you move?” We’ve heard the same thing, too.

It’s Saturday, the weekend of the 4th. We’re planning to celebrate the three day holiday downtown here in Jeff. I just hope the only fireworks we get to see are the ones planned at the fireworks show Tuesday evening.


Anonymous Rose Fisher said...

Nice comments from the Jeff PD.They sound like one step above the gangbangers, if that. It is nice though that you are given aid by someone in the area such as the college boys. The area hoodies probably don't know that there are other more effective ways to make a name for themselves,besides being destructive and abusive, because no one ever told them they could.If only the energy could be harnessed, say for instance if they helped to clean up the area and the citizens, grateful for the positive act, would place some sort of permanent acknowledgement. What do you think of that for an idea. They could have their name in print for being helpful for a change.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael, that is deep! thanks for the update, I just hope that TEAHE can one day, in the near future make a contribution in helping to make places such as Jefferson City Missouri, safer, and more united caring fronts that people regardless of race,and age can say with pride "this is my home, and I am proud to be a part of this community, you know, our local youth are admirable." Michael, Keep up your good works and we will be looking to hear from you soon.
Thanks, Reggie Jackson

7:39 PM  

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