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, August 30, 2006

Court--Jefferson City, Missouri

August 30th. I had to go to city court. Me and a hundred others--mostly people of color or people with obvious needs. It's amazing that a town of forty-thousand with four-thousand African-Americans had so many African-Americans in the courtroom. I'd say over half. Good ole boys? Of course not.

So I arrived at 5:15, my evidence with me in two bags and I organized all of it again while I waited and the room filled up to standing room only. The bailiff gave his bailiff speech. We stood when the judge entered who explained that this was not a trial, but an arraignment. If we pleaded innocent, we would have a trail date on a later day. (And I felt stupid for being there. Hadn't the arresting officer said he would be at the court to testify about the problems next door? Hadn't he said I would be found innocent and she guilty? He had to have known this was not a trail.) Then we waited for the prosecutor to call our names. He went through a lot of people who jumped bail first. Then the prosecutor went in an order I can't really explain. Most people were there for driving without seat belts or for having tinted windows. One man plead guilty to defecation on a city street. A hundred-five dollar fine plus court costs.

Then they called me. (If you have been following this blog, you know the lady next door filed a disturbing the peace against me after she threatened me and cursed me out, etc. etc. etc.) He asked my name, I gave it, he searched for the file, and he began to read it. It became painfully apparent this was the first time he saw this file. He asked me to remain standing--but over there, please--and called on two others before he came back to me.

"I'm dismissing this," he said. "I'm dismissing her too. You have to learn to get along with your neighbors."

I wanted to tell him everything that happened, The cut phone wires. The constant cursing. The major fights. How the gangbanger wannabees use 324 as a safe house. I almost did, but he looked at me and said, "You're dismissed."

I left. My wife had shown up only a few minutes earlier. She got up and we walked out together.

My neighbor hadn't been called yet, but two of her children were nearby. They gave us the finger and one of them made a threatening gesture with her fist. I thought, peace has come to an end. I was wrong. When we arrived home, everything was quiet.

Except for the back door of their house where seven boys snuck out when the teenage daughter's mother returned.


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