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, September 29, 2006


I wouldn’t have minded it so much if it hadn’t been mandatory. It’s not often a teacher gets out of the classroom to attend a workshop. But sometimes workshops become so much of a nuisance, I wonder if I have been hired to teach children or to listen to people communicate badly and not have a clue what they are talking about.

I’m talking about the meeting of the After School All Stars, an after school program that my school received. I did all of the applications and essays to obtain the program and we received about 15,000 dollars. I like that part. I’m the coordinator. I like that part, too. I just don’t like mandatory meetings that are a gross waste of time.

I would have much rather been in my classroom. (And if you read this blog, you know why. I have the best class in the school if not the city.)

(OK, OK. There were some good things. Unfortunately you’ll have to go to the bottom of this blog to read about them.)

The meeting started at 8:30. I recently moved back to the northside so I caught the red line train to 95th and the bus that goes down 111th Street. I left at 6:30 and made it to the meeting right on time.

On time for what? To register? To eat breakfast? Breakfast? Five kinds of coffee and enough donuts and pastries to make a gym teacher ill. And guess what? Many of the attendees were gym teachers! Oh, they cut the servings in half. Must’ve read the article in the Chicago Tribune about serving size: Americans buy a bag that had five servings in it and we eat it in one serving. (So I guess they were trying. But all of that coffee. I should have realized that was there for what was to come. Next time let’s please have some juice, too, and maybe even some fruit.)

So the meeting began late—after 9:00. Then it went fairly quickly. We learned about the program, who we could hire, and other significant things. Then we had a ten minute break. Help yourself to some more breakfast, we were told. So off we went to get fatter. (And let me tell you: Chicago has some serious overweight gym teachers.)

Then we had the guest speakers. The speakers who came all of the way from San Jose, California. The speakers who were going to—

Within fifteen minutes three individuals within a five seat radius were asleep. I was struggling. Soon five people were sleeping, one snoring softly and one dribbling spit from the side of her mouth. I took out my journal and decided to play the word frequency game. It has only one rule: Keep track of how many times a speaker says a key word such as “you know” or “right” or the classic, “um”.

Since I didn’t have a watch, I decided to see how often they would say one of the words per three slides. Not very scientific, but the best I could do.

They averaged nineteen “rights”, ten “you knows” and four “ums”. (Personally the “ums” surprised me.

Were they informative? No. Did they waste our time? Yes. In my informal vote on how they did twenty-two teachers (myself not included) said they were a total waste of time and one teacher said they were great. (This caused a few teachers in front of me to turn around and say, “I vote against her.) End result: 25 against and 1 for.

When they did their homework session at 1:45, I counted only seven teachers in the auditorium to listen. I begged for mercy and went to the second half of another session.

So what was good? Shirley H. Harden. She demonstrated great strategies for how to use TIME FOR KIDS. I really enjoyed myself in her session, but at the end, we were told we would have to purchase it this year. (It was free to us last year.) Nonetheless, I was impressed enough to get her card and ask her to please, please, please do a workshop for my school. (I have a few thousand dollars from a grant to hire speakers.)

Note to Shirley: This great testimonial should be worth at least fifty free subscriptions to TIME FORT KIDS.

Julie Frank from The Spark Program was also great. I came into her session over an hour late and I learned a line dance. Best of all I didn’t even know it was a line dance until after we did a few activities and she turned it into a dance. How cool was that! Even better, I know I’m going to use everything I learned in the brief time I attended her session even though I do not teach gym. Oops: physical education. (This from Mr. Francisco Hernandez, a gym, teacher at Daley Academy who I desperately want to recruit for my after school program.)

Lunch was nice, too.

The meeting ended not long after this and the train stopped for an unknown reason in the subway, but I fell asleep, and it only took two and a half hours to get home.

Conclusion: I learned some stuff, was excited by two sessions, discovered most of the time was just commercials trying to separate the 1500 dollar supply money from me.

Please, please, please—don’t fly incompetence in from San Jose, pay their hotel bill and feed them again. (Though I understand the National After School All Stars Program wasted their money, not the Chicago Board of Education.) We have enough incompetence here in Chicago already. And plenty more competent individuals. And we can do the entire thing for free. We already live here, we’re already being paid by the board to attend, and we know this stuff. I bet Francisco Hernandez could do a great job all by himself.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006


An anonymous donor sent us two checks for $250 each. I appreciate it a whole lot. The money will go for the development of a character education program. It’s much needed here.

(Yesterday, for example, I found myself rushing into the eighth grade classroom because of screams and ugly laughter. A student was actually punching the substitute teacher who was twice her size and trying very hard to restrain herself from punching the girl back. My first problem was getting to the fight through some of the girls who purposely blocked my way. I found myself physically removing students. Fortunately the girl calmed a little bit and I was able to get her across the hall into my classroom to join my class and the other three students who were earlier removed from their classrooms and placed in my room.)

My class, as usual, did brilliantly. The other seventh grade class also shined like the stars they can be. I believe almost every student in the class is on my classroom’s homepage for excellence.

We had to cancel our field trip. My rule about field trips is hard and fast. If a child walks out of the room without permission, that month’s field trip is cancelled. A child walked out. The trip is cancelled.

Here, in fact, are our posted rules:

Classroom Rules

No talking without permission.

No touching each other. Touching leads to fighting. No fighting is tolerated at all.

No signifying.

Treat everyone the way you want to be treated.

Follow the rules of the school.


If you have a question, ask. You cannot learn if you are afraid to ask questions. There are no stupid questions, just stupid people who did not ask and never found out the answer.

Respect each other. We are the family of Room 209. As a family, we work together, play together, try together and get along together.

Two and three year olds do not know how to share. This is their developmental stage. This is a seventh grade classroom. We are more mature, able to work out our problems without cursing, fighting or acting ignorant. (Everyone in here knows what ignorant, embarrassing behavior is.)

Everyone has their strong points. Few individuals are good in everything. Remember Albert Einstein, the smartest man in the last century, had serious learning disabilities.

There is no I in the word team. Be considerate of your classmates and help them to strive to do better.

Try your best. Give it your all. Be a champion of learning.


If you break anyone of the classroom rules three times in one day, Mr. Brownstein will go to your house. (You can get your name off the punishment paper if the class behaves in the hallways and prep classrooms and/or if an adult compliments us anywhere anytime.)

After Mr. Brownstein has made three home visits, he no longer goes to your house. Instead, you will be sent to the office for time-out, parent conferences, and/or suspension.

We will go on a field trip each month. Field trips will be cancelled if anyone in our class has a fight in and around the school property and/or one of our students walks out of a class without permission. (Empasis added.)

Well behaved students or students who are trying extra hard will receive positive home visits or positive home phone calls.

Nonetheless it was a very nice day until the end. My prep was cancelled, a sixth grader in another room has been assigned to me until they decide what they want to do with his disciplinary problems, and, of course, it’s never nice to see children turn against an adult to cause harm. We did review the rules twice more before the day came to an end.

I read somewhere we should be color blind to the skin colors of our students. I know this cannot truly really happen. Unfortunately, even though I would love to say we can be color blind, we cannot. There is too much racism, we have to force our students of color to work to a higher standard because they have to know how to compete harder, and we must understand white folk’s middle “classness” does not always correspond with poverty and all of the issues poverty brings into a family. I feel fairly strongly about this. I feel we can teach middle class values, but we must also always be aware of the culture and the problems minorities face day to day. I’ll write more on this later.

The student who attacked the teacher lives with her grandmother and ten other grandchildren. I have an issue with the state giving legal custody as foster children to a parent who raised a family already--and failed--and is now trying to raise the grandchildren of her failed children. When she was younger and stronger, she could not handle it. Now frail and older, how can we expect her to do the job better a scond time? We can't. This particular parent, by the way, had six children all of whom are now either in jail or so strung out on drugs they have made a jail inside of themselves. Of course, I'll write more on this later.

My personal kids still are not in the new high school and I’ll write more on this later, too. Fortunately they have classes with the University of Missouri High School Program.

Anyway, we received five hundred dollars from an anonymous donor who resides in Idaho and the final order from NASCO came in (paid through a grant I wrote last year) and Scholastic sent us class books and other great things—many of them free.

A good day for the most part.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


This week has been interesting. Five teachers from the second floor and two from the first floor had to attend a teacher’s convention. I have no problem with this. Teachers should attend conventions and workshops that give them better strategies to become better teachers. The problem I do have is the need for substitutes.

Yesterday we did not have a sub for one of the eighth grade classes so we combined them. The seventh grade class did not have anyone for twenty minutes. I watched both seventh grade classes.

Everything went well—OK, one fight, a major disturbance on the first floor, a few noisy lines through the hall. Nothing we couldn’t handle.

Today everything went even smoother. Every room was covered, my class studied the Kentucky coffee tree seed pod, read a poem by Tupac, studied reading strategies with Langston Hughes, observed real fungi and mold in a walk around the playground (where we saw plant lice and a fence that a tree trunk swallowed), and did a vast number of other things.


This is the third week and I can’t wait to get to my classroom. Everyday they show how valuable learning is.

Quite a change from last year.

But I need to let you know something. Tomorrow begins the Jewish holidays. I won’t be at school. Me and seven other teachers. Hope they have enough GOOD subs.

And I’m not worried. My class will be just fine. (Though I will worry about the sub next door who greeted me this morning with: “Thank God, you’re here.”)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


We’re back in school for a couple of weeks and now it’s the first Local School Council meeting for the year. I’m not excited. Last meeting (I wasn’t there) the president of the council and one of the community reps resigned. The only thing of interest to me was who was still on the council.

Some schools have tons of parent volunteers. Not us. We have one, maybe two, volunteers helping during the school year. We even awarded money to the best parent volunteer of the year just to try to get more to help us out. It didn’t work. The playground used to be patrolled by a number of adults—mostly teacher aides—but we only have one now so the assistant principal has to help each morning with outside duty. We asked for parents to help us there too, but no one really comes out.

So what does all of this have to do with the LSC CANDIDATE FROM HELL? She showed up at the meeting to apply for a position. We have two teacher reps (I’m one of them) and two community reps, but only one parent rep (we need five more). The PARENT FROM HELL wanted to apply. Two others did too.

I didn’t care about the other two. But the PARENT FROM HELL? That was a totally different matter. How can we have a parent who believes with great fervor that its her right to make sure no one gets in the way when one of her children have a fight.

I know.

I tried to break up a fight between her daughter and one of my students last year on the playground. It was impossible. She made sure her sons jumped in and she positioned herself in such a way that she and her cousin could push all of us adults out of the way.

It should have been an easy fight to break up. The girls had equal skills in fighting, but how could anyone break up a fight when it was really five against one—including two parents.

I thought they accidentally pushed me aside the first time. The second time was too obvious. When the gym teacher yelled to her to quit pushing, I knew we were in for it. It took five adults to finally stop the fight and three adults to restrain the loser who wanted very badly to get a piece of everyone in that family.

We didn’t call the police on the adults. Hindsight is not a nicest way to view the world.

A month later her son attacked a child from behind who was being walked to the office in another fight. Her son hit the boy so hard in the back of his head, I saw visions of ambulances. It became my job to restrain her son and I did. And what did he do with his free hand? He hit me. Not once, but a few times and when the police arrived, he cursed them out.

Mother’s response to the entire incident? Mr. Brownstein hurt my child by almost breaking his arm. I wanted to do more than that, but I’m just a teacher and we restrain children; we don’t hurt them. Through the entire ordeal, I just held his other hand leaving one hand free.

Are there other incidents? Of course. The MOTHER FROM HELL caused lots of problems for lots of teachers. Her children could do no wrong. Ever.

And here she was now getting ready to apply for a LSC position. No way. Not on my watch. And I told the council as much.

But, I was told, by the other mother from hell, I would have done what she did. I teach my child to let no one hit him. (She’s a community rep because her child from hell could do no wrong and she transferred him—so now another school complains to me about him whenever I see anyone from there about us sending him to them.)

But, I was told by another member—not the teacher rep, we need members and this is one of the few applications we received.

I don’t care. Quantity over quality? We can wait for a better candidate. We owe it to our school, our students and to our parents.

So how did everything end? We’re to draw up a new bylaw that explains to the LSC members how they should act and let them know they can be removed if they do not act in the proper manner. The vote: 5 to 1. The election: next month’s meeting. The vote: 5 to 0.

I’m thinking about due process and petty lawsuits and how this woman will be seated on the council and how legally we will have the hardest time getting rid of her.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The 90,000 Dollar Teacher

OK. OK. So in Denver it is possible for a teacher with more than thirty years experience (like me) and a masters in education (like me) can make 90,000 dollars if their class performs well on standardized tests and other criteria. (I read this the same day I wrote my blog. It was an article I cannot find on the Internet.)

Teachers in Denver can actually get bonuses for their work in the classroom!

I don’t live in Denver. I live in Chicago. We don’t have bonuses for success in our classrooms. We don’t make 90,000 dollars. We, in fact, face serious deficits every year and our pay raises are erased by our higher medical premiums. And the teachers’ union is adamantly against it. (It hates it so much, this issue is also a strike issue.)

So I guess I’m still too stupid. Remember my sister, P., said I must be stupid to be working for less than 80,000 dollars with thirty years experience and a masters.

I still teach in Chicago.

I should go to Colorado and get a job in their system.

According to the latest ISAT (the Illinois standardized test), my seventh grade classes scored a 97% on the science portion of the test and almost a 70% on the reading portion.

Not bad.

The district only wanted a fifty or better.

So I guess I’ll remain here and keep being stupid. After all, I’m fairly successful in my classroom.

Friday, September 15, 2006


A few days ago my youngest sister celebrated her birthday. My brother and other two sisters were there with my mother. I was looking for a new place to live so I didn’t make it.

Somehow I came up in the conversation. It was about money, of course. I’m a school teacher. I’ve been teaching for over thirty years always in Chicago’s roughest neighborhoods, many times in situations that called for a lot more than anyone could really give or handle.

School teachers as a rule are not the richest individuals in the country. Oh, we train the richest. It’s because of us there are lawyers and doctors and rocket scientists. Few on the Chicago Board of Trade did not get to where they are without the help of a school teacher.

Nonetheless, my sister—we’ll call her P.—told everyone around the table that I must easily make 80,000 dollars a year. She said, “He has a masters and seniority. He’d have to be extremely stupid if he doesn’t make 80,000 dollars.”

I guess I’m extremely stupid.

I don’t make that kind of money. Even as the administrator of the After School All-Stars Program (over a hundred hours of work for a thousand dollars) and the chairperson for the Least Restricted Environment grant (thirty hours at least and I’m still waiting to get paid). I even did the Wednesday night reading enrichment program that went past 6:30 PM.

No, I don’t make 80,000 dollars. I understand Chicago Public School assistant principals make that kind of money.

But not me.

I’m just a teacher.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I do make that kind of money. So I did the only thing I could think of to do: I looked at my 2005 income tax forms. Nope. Not 80,000. Not even seventy. More like sixty. Less after taxes.

And this is for an average day from 7:30 AM to about 5:00. I even acted as the crossing guard last school year because Chicago did not think my school worthy of a crossing guard after the after school program let out at 4:45.

80,000 for a teacher in the inner city? Come on now. Let’s be serious. I’m going home to have a drink and you know what? I never touch the stuff. Beer tastes too much like medicine.

I just think maybe in addition to being stupid, I’m also sick.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Reader's Digest Moment

I had a READER’S DIGEST moment. You know the kind. You ask who is buried in Grant’s tomb and someone yells out, Mark Twain. Or a question on a worksheet wants to know where will the survivors be buried if their plane crashes on the Canadian/American border and a few individuals write Mexico. And you wonder where did these answers come from?

OK. We’re studying the development of words and we’re looking at the history of the word “Iowa”. The question before us is where did Iowa get its name and almost every seventh grader wrote the Iowa River named by French settlers. But then we move on and try to discover how Illinois was named. After which Native American Group--the Iowa, Sioux or Illinois people? Why do more than half the class write down Sioux? Then Iowa?

And then the substitute across the hall decides fifteen students are too many. Suddenly I have two eighth graders in my class, the other eighth grade teacher has four and some other teacher has taken in one. I guess we all have our tolerance to pain—verbal or physical—and telling an adult, “Your wig looks like a fine crusted vulture?’ is insulting, but I’m not sure it merited being sent to the office and then to another class. (Remember: the assistant principal, counselor and principal teach computer, physical education and/or library—in addition to all of their other duties.) By 1:30, I had six more students in my class—even if it was only for a short time (though three of them were with me for the larger part of the day).

I know haw hard it is to be a sub. I did it before—and I even did it recently—but how do you manage to get your class down to three students and still have complaints?

Nonetheless, my homeroom—we started changing classes yesterday—is still doing great even if next door has a few problems and the eight grade is in need of some serious character education.

Friday, September 08, 2006

How Great Is This?

The first week of school ended with a smile and a laugh. I have a great class of students! They actually do what I ask and have this need to learn and they’re not afraid to ask questions—

How cool is that?

On my board, we went over the rules and consequences. We talked about my expectations. We did this everyday at least once. Sometimes twice. This class actually responded to them.

“If you have a question, ask. There is no such thing as a stupid question; only stupid people who did not ask.”

And they ask. “How do you divide two numbers into four?” “Do you add denominators when you multiply fractions?” “Is there a short cut to this problem?” “I don’t see how the boy changed just because he saw an eagle. Can you explain this?” Etc. Etc. Etc.

Twenty-one students so far—one no show—and two transfer-outs. One of the transfers I knew about. She has too much pride. All of last year she did no work, cursed and instigated, ditched school, was suspended fourteen times and more than once even cursed out the principal. One time she got into a physical fist fight with her mother. Her mother!

We had to fail her, but in this school we don’t fail seventh graders. My colleague and I worked hard on making her an exception. Her behavior and lack of school work was becoming a part of the culture of the school. We felt the morale of the teachers and students relied on her repeating seventh grade. She bragged she could not fail. No one ever fails seventh grade, she would say again and again. We needed desperately to protect the positive culture of the school.

She failed. She did not believe it. She came to school the second day to get her report card to see if she did, in fact, fail. She found out she was in my room. Fifteen years old in seventh grade. She turned around, told someone she was going to the office to transfer herself out (which we all know she cannot do), and then walked out the back door and hopped on the first Number 3 bus that passed.

She transferred out today. I wish her the best. The streets of Chicago were too open to her and she thirsted for them. No one had any control over her. Not her mother. Not her grandmother. Not us, her teachers. She is going to live in Wisconsin. I hope this works for her. I hope she reconsiders her life and strives to go forward.

The first week of school is over and my class did too many good things. I’m proud of them. I’m beginning to think this will be a great year.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

First Teacher Union Meeting of the Year

Union Delegate Report—September 6, 2006
Michael H. Brownstein, Delegate

Marilyn Stewart, the CTU President, talked for a very long time—sometimes incoherently, other times quite lucid.


“The union is not pro incompetent teachers. We are pro due process. To support incompetence—how crazy is this?”

“We will begin contract negotiations this fall.”

“Please keep all of your Board documentation. Take them with you to your grave. You never can tell with the Board what they will do next.”

“We’re educating children to get an education.” (My personal favorite of the night.)

“We must support school funding. There will be a rally in October and we should be there wearing red.” I’ll give out more details when I receive them.

“We will need members to volunteer to work the phone banks. We pay a ten dollar per hour stipend. We do have one change: If you’re going to work the phone banks, you must sign a deduction card for CTU PAC.”

“The Virtual School? Another name for home schooling. Every student will receive a free laptop, Internet connection and a free phone bill. (Honest—a free bill.) How many of you have enough computers in your classroom for all of your students? Once again the Board is taking away money from the public schools.”

The union backed the Democratic Party in the coming statewide elections—but it wasn’t a unanimous decision.

Dr. Suzy Fox will be conducting an on-line survey about teacher stress. It will take about fifteen minutes, but it is entirely voluntary. More on this later.

The CTU website is: www.ctunet.com

The rest of the meeting: Officers read to us what was in our packet and this was too depressing for me (cause I can read them by myself), so I had to leave.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

After the First Day

The first day went so smoothly, everything was just about right. Well, there were a few problems. The principal had to give my class gym because the gym teacher hired for the school is on a half day schedule—he spends one half of the week at another school and the rest of the time with us. The assistant principal taught library. (We still do not have a librarian.) We only have two aids and they seemed to be stretched pretty thin. Only one copier worked. (Out of three.)

I have twenty-four students on my roster, but one transferred out. Twenty students showed up on the first day all in uniform and everyone had some school supplies. (Nonetheless, I still passed out paper, pencils and pens for those who might not want others to know they could not afford basic supplies.) The class seemed pretty nice and articulate. Two students already told me they had problems with math. Three others asked for help in reading. I’m getting a good feeling about all of this.

A few of us stayed after school a couple of extra hours to make sure other things were accomplished. We helped set up computers and type letters to the parents and other things.

Tonight is the first union meeting and since I’m the delegate, I guess I’d better go. I’ll report on that tomorrow.

OK—so far so good. We read from a few books, did a pattern in math (using a coloring book), reviewed basic math, studied a chart and a graph, and wrote an essay on how to improve the school. (I may post some of the better ones on this site. Or not.) We began character education with a story about someone innocent who gets drawn into a police incident. It’s good to know my students can tell the difference between a tattle-tale and doing the right thing. (At least a few students vocalized that view.) By the way, the character education book is free to teachers and classrooms in Illinois.

I guess that’s it.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The First Day of School

Welcome back! Today is the first day of school and it looks to be a very interesting school year. Due to budget cuts and a drop in enrollment, we lost five teacher aids and two teachers. Nonetheless, we still have a student body that is 98% eligible for the federal free lunch and free breakfast program.

It rained all last night and the weatherman informed me it was going to rain in the morning, but the clouds cleared and I walked to school without even encountering a sidewalk puddle. A whole lot of people were in a very good mood this morning—based on all of the hello’s I received. (Probably have children going to school!)

I did my final preparations—seating chart, paperwork, etc.—and went to the office for my supplies. I seldom ask for much, but I do like to start the first day of school with pens and pencils for all of my students, index cards, and at least ten sheets of paper per student. We did not have any writing paper so I had to take a ream of little people paper. (You know the kind—the paper with the big spaces.) There were no index cards, but a teacher gave me sentence strips and I cut them into index card sized pieces. I ended up using Post-Its at each table.

I’m psyched for this new year, almost excited. I even walked the four miles to work in just about an hour. I accomplished everything I needed to do in almost no time. It’s past 8:30 and no one has asked me to go outside on playground duty. I guess I should count that as one blessing.

Anyway—here goes. In fifteen minutes my class will be arriving—and I'm ready for them.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Back in School

September 1st. I'm back in my classroom. I have to get the class ready for school on Tuesday. I took the AMTRAK train home yesterday--if you need to know why I'm two days late in coming to work, check out my summer vacation blogs on this site. I arrived home late, did not get a good sleep, began my walk to school (all of four miles), and got lucky and received a ride from a former teacher at my school. We had meetings in the morning and I was able to get my room almost ready in the afternoon and in the ninety period before school started. (I arrived at 7:15AM.)

What did I do today?

Cleaned the classroom,
placed tables in their correct place,
put all of the furniture where they are supposed to go,
moved twenty boxes,
created a classroom library by sorting through over four-hundred books.
organized science library,
organized science table,
distributed items for primary grades received during the summer,
went to meeting at 8:45,
listened to presentation from Julex,
listened to presentation on standardized tests in reading, math, writing and science,
explained to faculty about the Lest Restricted Environment Project (only to find out
nothing in the plan that I asked for was received),
presented to the faculty how my classroom did so well in science (we scored in the 90’s
on the standardized science test),
listened to presentation from Newton’s,
watched DVD for inspiration,
sang song, “We’re On the Move”,
worked on bulletin boards—five of them (received major assistance—didn’t have to
work on them anymore,
organized entire room,
put away all of the boxes,
organized classroom work for Tuesday—first day of school,
wrote letter to parents,
wrote classroom rules, expectations, consequences
homework and school supplies,
created first part of word wall—science vocabulary terms,
set up computer,
received three in-kind grants during the summer and inventoried them,
assisted a former student in getting a poem published,
went through over three hundred pieces of mail—mail from the summer,
worked on some correspondence,
attended a CSMI meeting for science,
wrote out my class list,
wrote my supply list—but this is so limited—and I am told I may get it on Tuesday
(index cards, writing paper, two dozen pens and two dozen pencils),
checked my Board of Education email,
etc., etc., etc.

It was hectic and I was manic, but most of it is done.

The assistant principal has just made an all call that the school will be closing at 6:00 sharp. It's almost six now. Gotta go.

An Open Letter to Prosecutor Daniel Green, Jefferson City, Missouri

Dear Prosecutor Green
City Court
Jefferson City, Missouri

Dear Mr. Green:

Below is a letter that gives one reason why we decided to press disturbing the peace violations against Shelley Walton, 324 Ash Street. These incidents happened in May. There were many before that. There were many after. Below is a letter we sent to Section 8 and the police department to help us and our neighborhood solve what we felt was a dangerous situation.

Our dispute, contrary to what you said in court, was not a neighbor's dispute. We tried to get a long. For many months now we tried. Then we acted and even though the cases were dismissed, I felt you should know why I did what I did.

Most of the letter is as told to me through the eyes of my wife.

Section 8
Jefferson City, MO 65101

Dear Pat:

We thought we would update you on the problems related to the Section 8 tenants residing at 324 Ash. In the time since we delivered the petition to your office (about four weeks ago), three major incidents have occurred.

On May 13th, the police were called to the residence three times. First, because of a suspicious vehicle in front of the house in question. One individual was taken into custody. Another teenager got out of the car and cursed and yelled and generally disturbed the neighborhood’s peace for a good twenty minutes. A man came up to him after the police left and asked him what his problem was. The teenager swung on the man, the people on the porch of 324 Ash rushed inside their home, the man’s sister saw what was happening and tried to break it up (she even urged the tenants of 324 who were now back on the porch to call the police), and then the tenants were calling the police—but to tell them someone was attacking them. The police came and took the man to jail. The teenager who started it walked into 324 Ash as if he belonged there. An hour later when I stepped out onto the porch, individuals on 324’s porch told me to “take your mf ass back into the house.” I had come onto the porch to investigate a loud noise. The next thing I knew the adult, Shelly Walton, was on one side of my porch and one of her tenants, a young lady named Kendra, was directly in front of me threatening to kick my ass. A teenage boy had to grab Kendra (alias Ginger, alias Vanessa, alias Kendera) and pull her away. The police came out a third time because the neighbors had called them. I filed a complaint. The police issued a ticket to the young lady who came before me and threatened to cause me bodily harm (I was seated at the time), but not to Shelly who said: “We’ll get you when you’re alone.” I can’t tell you why Shelly wasn’t issued a ticket, too.

Let’s move onto May 21st. There was a major disturbance from the house at 324 Ash. Once more the police had to come out. It is very hard to sleep when the tenants of 324 Ash come out after dark and disturb the night with their loud talking until the sun comes up. I clearly overheard one of the teenagers ask who called the police. He was answered by someone else I cannot identify: “The lady next door. Someone’s got to take care of her.”

May 23rd. A gun was found on the property of 324. This is after a disturbance around 324 the night before. No one was taken into custody, but the police came to 324 with a presence and Shelly had to sign something. Furthermore, the officers made her son, Toma, clean the street. The police never stopped coming after that. They must have arrived at least twenty more times. I thought I was living in a war zone. The police would show up, the teenagers would run and flaunt themselves to the police and this went on and on past midnight. I have to tell you I am actually scared for my life and the life of my children. I do not know who called the police about the teenager with the gun, but the boy who allegedly had the gun saw me get out of my car and he gave me a hard and dangerous look.

I do not know what to do, but I do know this: it will only get worse and when it escalates into violence where people are hurt or dead, how will you in Section 8, how will the City of Jefferson, how will the community be able to look itself in the mirror? The problems at 324 Ash have gone on long enough. It is time something clearly is done to stop it.

Thank you.

Deborah Wymbs

Michael H. Brownstein

Anne Hoffman