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.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


So Monday is Casimir Pulaski Day, the day all of the Chicago schools get to take the day off because of some guy named Pulaski who never stepped on Illinois soil and died in his second battle during the Revolutionary War (after losing his first one).

Some people want to call him the Father of the Modern Day Calvary, so I guess Hannibal is the Father of the Modern Elephant Brigade. (Both equally silly.)

Men have been using horses forever in battle. Don’t give more to a man than he deserves. A deserter in Prussia, a man with a death sentence over his head from another European country, a man forced into exile, he came here to rectify everything and lived long enough only to—well, to get a street named after himself in Chicago (Is it named after him? We do have more Poles living here than anywhere else except for Warsaw.)

Let’s cut to the bone. When Governor Thompson a few years back was in a tight race for governor, he decided if he had the Polish vote, he would win the election. What better way to do it than to have a holiday honoring a Pole—Casimir Pulaski —for his work during the Revolutionary War?

Think about this for a moment. George Washington, the founder of our country, no longer has a holiday. (It’s President’s Day now.) So why should a has been have a holiday named after him?

Two weeks before the Illinois ISAT testing program, we’re getting a day off to celebrate a man who—who—who—I don’t know what to say.

But people tell me it’s a day off. Be grateful.

Sorry, I believe that even Martin Luther King, Jr. would want us in school learning about how one individual can make a difference rather than getting a day off. King deserves a day. So does Washington and he doesn’t get one. So why would we ever think to give one to Pulaski?


PS. Thompson got almost the entire Polish vote and won the election.


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