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, 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.


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