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, October 06, 2006


OK. So I tried to get my two children into Niles North High School. I tried. I really did. And just like that old trusty train that we all read about when we were young—guess what?—I finally succeeded.

First I asked about getting into the Chicago Public School High School, Hirsh. One phone call. Bring in their transcripts, proof you live in our area and we’ll start them up right away.

Niles North in Skokie District 219? That was an entirely different animal.

Bring in original birth certificates, the lease to prove you are renting here, their transcripts and we’ll sit down and talk.


We’re here from 7:00 to 3:30.

(I like to get to work around seven and I’m never out of here before 3:30.)

I made an appointment to see them at seven. By 7:45 AM, I was finished. The application must have been at least ten pages.

So where’s your wife? How do we know you did not kidnap your children?

Call 911, I said. Then I explained that she would be arriving in a few days. (She had some last minute stuff to do in Jefferson City, Missouri.)

It didn’t matter.

No, they answered. Bring us an original copy of your marriage license. State law.

It took me a few days to get everything together. I faxed the marriage license. They told me everything was OK. Now we just have to do the home visit. They will bring you a packet to bring with you when you register your children.

He came the next night—over a week after we started the process. Asked to see me and the two kids. The apartment is fairly empty because we haven’t really begun to move things in, but it’s comfortable.

Do you need to take a tour? I asked.

Nope. Just have to see that you live here. Have to meet the two students.

No packet. Didn’t tell me I needed to bring one.

He dropped that off the next day.

And then: no physical within the last six months. That’s a problem. Get that and we’ll make an appointment.

Thank God for a friendly doctor. They saw them on Tuesday and they entered high school on Wednesday. Will not quite that easy. First I had to play telephone tag. Then I had to fill out more stuff. Then I had to meet with the registrar. then I---

Almost three weeks after we started the entire process—and two Jewish holidays later.

Now let’s talk about fees.

I thought public schools were free.

The combined bill for my two children is over a thousand dollars.

This is getting to be interesting.


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