Monday, January 31, 2005

Down Here, Where We’re At
Shitty is a failing school. I don’t mean that in the “they schools ain’t teaching us what we need to know to survive” way. Nor do I mean that no matter what we do those darn test scores just won’t come up. That’s all true. Kids are disillusioned. Test scores are low. Graduation rates are worse, but to some degree that’s the case at all urban schools. That’s a bigger problem.

Shitty is failing in a much more tangible sense. The city wants to phase Shitty (and most other large high schools) out in favor of the romantic ideal (and Bill Gates billions) of mini-schools. In the mean time they keep sending all the kids none of these selective schools want our way while denying us the resources, space and support we need.

It’s a set-up. The sooner and more completely we fail, the easier it will be to kick us to the curb. What they think will happen to the thousands of kids currently attending, and the thousands more coming unwanted form the middle schools and over the counter from the DR, I don’t know. I’m not sure they do either.

That leaves me, struggling away in the classroom trying to tune out the chaos in the halls, trying to work without enough books (and no good ones,) having to let kids in my class (the tiny, fetid one in the basement) no matter how late and disruptive and stoned they are because security has bigger Gs to fry.

The Spring semester starts tomorrow, and I still don’t know what classes I’ll be teaching. Instead of preparing for the week or setting up a room (or helping out whatever overworked scheduling schlub can’t work a spreadsheet) I spent today doodling through a workshop about Accountable Talk, which is a useless euphemism for having decent, thought-provoking classroom discussions, something which I was already aware was a good thing.

On my way out of the building today there was a big, mangy New York City squirrel in the stairwell. It saw me and darted into the hall. I jumped, then followed excitedly with a big goofy grin on my face. A woman in an office squealed and I winked at her, then jumped again when the squirrel came out from behind a trash can. Another woman emerged from across the hall bug-eyed and arms akimbo.

The squirrel turned and ran back towards me, heading for the girls locker room. I stomped in his path sending him scrambling left, back into the stairwell and towards the nearest exit.

“What are ya doin’! Ya idiot!” screamed the bug-eyed woman in a nasty Bronx brogue. “You’re scarin’ him! Idiot!”

I politely explained that I was trying to help the little creature get back outside, told her to fuck off and kiss my fucking ass, and left on my merry way.

Anyway, all this is just to provide a little framework for my whiny rants about annoying kids. I’m not trying to complain all the time, just telling it like it is, and it hasn’t been good lately. Here’s hoping the Spring semester goes a little more smoothly.

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