Posted by the prisoner's wife On 10:09 PM
today, a student called me a bitch.
this isn't unusual in an urban classroom, but this time, instead of whispering it to my back, she said it LOUDLY, where EVERYONE could hear. it was as if all the kids were shocked and starred at us to see what i'd do. would i jump across the room, snatch her up and shake some sense into her? (thought about it). would i curse her out and tell her where to go ? (thought about that, too). but i did neither. i calmly asked her to step into the hall, then proceeded to give her a good tongue-lashing before i sent her to the dean's office. but honestly, i was stunned. not by her calling me a bitch, but at how easily (and loudly) the words flowed from her twelve-year-old lips. bitch.
i rarely use that word. i'm not comfortable with calling other women/girls bitches, even if they are mean/evil/insert whatever word here. i just don't. i wasn't raised hearing cursing in my house, even if it was going on outside my front door. i was raised with respect for ALL adults. so much so that even if i HATED that person, i would wait until i was alone to utter my muffled curses. my students...apparently aren't learning the same lessons at home.
i am so completely frustrated, and at the same time, sad for my students. they are growing up in a culture of failure. they are taught, either at home or by the media, that being cool or hard or pretty will be enough to get them through. when in all actuality, being smart and knowing how to treat people is key. many of my students curse like sailors. curse like they learned it in a book. some curse better than they speak "standard" English. it's so easy for me to write them off. easy for me to say, "see, their parents aren't raising them right," but even some of the "good" kids are falling victim to this false sense of what's important. but it's deeper than that.
as my job teeters on the brink of uncertainty, my state is spending billions more on prison funding, while dropping to 47th in the country on per pupil spending. so while the state claims it is broke and must cut the education budget and are laying off teachers, which will increase the sizes of classes and make each student get even less attention, we are increasing funding for those youths who will, because they aren't engaged/able to get the attention they need, drop out and end up in prison.
the fight for our kids isn't fair. while we work HARD, it always seems like the game is rigged. i know that i can only control what happens within the four walls of my classroom. i know that no matter what attitudes, problems, issues, or deficiencies my students come with, it is up to me to put all of that aside and prepare them for what will come.
it's hard. and i'm tired, but tomorrow i will get up and do it all over again.