Yesterday, I walked into the building where I work. I went to sign in only to be told that I was late. I think I was about ninety seconds late.


I was told that I was late and that was marked on my attendance.

What the fuck?

It seems that there are people in this world who, when in charge, go powermad.  Add to that the fact that some people are such fuck-ups at work that everyone has to be punished punitively for every little infraction – and you get what I got, yesterday.

At this moment, being a teacher is a great job – and the worst job.

Teachers are being whipped because many parents in our communities refuse to do their jobs at home.

That is the long and short of it.  Because so many children can’t read and write and no one in their homes wants to take any responsibility for their behavior, teachers are being flogged like rented mules.

Let’s face it; The state can’t do anything to the parents or kids.  They only know how to fire people and make them suffer.

There is an old saying that goes, “Those who can’t do teach.”

So, what does that make administration in a school district?

Well, if you ever met a few of them – you could answer that for yourself.

And, no matter how many principals came into our school (make it three over the last nine years), things only slightly shift.  Nothing ever really changes.

Every principal has his/her list of favorites and everyone else can go fuck themselves.


You have no rights.  You have the right to do what you are told and put up with terrible offenses to your person.  I know teachers who have had personal items stolen from them only to be told that the student could/would not be removed from their classroom.  Instead, the teachers were admonished for bringing personal items into the building.

There are students here who have failed certain grade levels only to be told that they can only fail once.  For instance, if you fail seventh grade once – and then you fail it, again….you are still promoted to eighth grade.


So, tell me – what does AYP really mean?

I have had administrators tell a room full of teachers that they didn’t know how to teach/talk to African-American students.  Where I come from, that is racist.  But, when you are in a school that doesn’t make AYP, no one gives a rat’s ass about how that statement offends you.

The teacher’s union loses more and more power, each day.

Someone needs to step up and demand that our working environment changes.

After all, ‘fair’ is just a word.

I dont want fair.
I want equal.


I am looking forward to some time off.

With Christmas only a few days away, many teachers see fewer and fewer students in their classrooms.  Because of this, we usually do very easy things with our students.  We keep it academic, but we try and lighten up.  In one class I teach, there are easily ten students absent.  Tomorrow, there will probably be even fewer students.

That is why I was so dismayed to get a phone-call from a colleague informing me that our district superintendent would be coming through our building, this morning.  It seems that he has absolutely nothing to do except break balls.  He is doing this for no other reason than to keep people from relaxing and enjoying the final few days before Christmas.

These are the days, in work places around the country, where things slow down a little.  People get together, for a few extra minutes, and enjoy each other’s company.  They discuss their plans for the coming holidays.  In classrooms around the country, kids take a few days during the busy school year to be young and have fun.  After all, its a really great time of the year.

In my school, where our benchmark scores were low – we are not afforded such a luxury.  We are taken to task on days like this.  The adults are lorded over like children and the kids are made to do more work because – frankly, they need to do more work. So, our regional superintendent is going to sneak into our building (not really, because we have all been informed) and try to sneak into classrooms to catch teachers with their guards down three days before Christmas.


That’s just how it is in Philadelphia.

Only the adults are “punished” by the people in charge when they are doing something “wrong”.

The people “in charge” do this to us because they can.  Mostly, they do it because they have nothing better to do.  They don’t actually know how to administer over anything with fresh ideas or positivity.  They only know how to snare people and  make examples of them.

It’s a shame they don’t have the balls to actually do that to students who ruin our schools.

That would be something.

If only Santa made those balls.

Gotta go.

The word is out.

He is creeping around our halls.


A good friend of mine read this blog and asked me if what I wrote was true.

She wasn’t challening me, mind you.  She was just genuinely shocked to learn that things like kids getting arrested happens in schools as often as it does in my school.

Kids act up in classes, quite often.  The reason it is so prevelant has to do with the fact that not much gets done about it.  When I say not much, I mean that students with long disciplinary histories are allowed to linger in schools as the destroy the learning environment for other students.  Since administrators claim that everything is about the students, when are they going to realize that allowing the worst-behaved students to stay in schools ruins education for the kids who want to learn?  Until they are willing to admit that this is a failure on the state and federal level, I have the right to say they are full of shit.

Today alone, I had two students who completely disrupted my class.  When I picked up the phone in my classroom to call for help, no one answered on the other end.  I called three different offices and I got no one.  Simply put, schools are stretched thin.  There are simply too many problems to deal with in the space of one school day.  It’s like putting out small fires that just keep flaring up when your back is turned.

I am loathe to call out my peers.  But, some of my peers fall woefully short of their duties as support staff.  Some of my peers are supposed to help us with the worst discipline cases.  Instead, they walk around during the day acting like quasi-adminstrators who are just happy they don’t actually have to teach kids.

I have actually seen one person on the support staff tell another person on the support staff that she didn’t have to answer her phone everytime it rang.  I shot back, “Yes, you do.  Everytime that phone rings, it is someone looking for help.  You have no right to let it ring.  That is your job.”

But, this is part of the problem.  This kind of behavior, like bad student behavior, is enabled at the highest level.  I am talking about a level beyond just the principal of a school.  There should just be an edict in place that states, “Anyone who is not a certified administrator must have a full-time teaching roster”.

The end.

PS – When your phone rings, answer it.

handcuffs1In my school, the word “handcuffs” have forever been replaced in my mind with the word “bracelets”. It started during last year’s school year. A year, by the way, that saw almost fifty arrests between the months of October and June. It was a year plagued by violence and extremely low PSSA scores. The school where I work was one of the most violent in a very violent city. To make matters worse, our state test scores were some of the lowest in the state.

Clearly, our school needed leadership. It was something our former principal promised when she took the job. But, she never delivered. Instead, she made sure her friends were taken care of – and she left the rest of us to drown in our classrooms amidst swirling rumors of a state take-over of our school. While the rest of us fretted about our futures, she was busy getting another job.

During this time, the number of violence incidents taking place in our school was sky-rocketing. So, the district appointed a sergeant in the school-police to be permanently assigned to our building. From the time he entered the building, until the time he left, he cleared a fairly wide path of righteous justice wherever he walked.

If a student got out of line, he would “Slip on the bracelets.” When we heard that, we knew the student was under arrest for disorderly conduct. The local police were contacted (sometimes three times a day) and a cruiser come over and took the student to the local headquarters where a parent or guardian would have to come and get them. I think it is important to note here that the students I teach are only around twelve to fourteen years of age.

This year, that school-officer has been assigned to another building and our budget has been cut. We don’t have nearly as many adults working our hallways, this year. Although things have been better, you can feel the atmosphere slowly building towards “event”. All it takes is one incident to open the floodgates and the building can turn in an instant. You can almost sense the worst students in the building slowly measuring us – waiting for the right opportunity.

Earlier this week, a student I teach was arrested. The student deserved it. This particular student has become a source of constant menace in my classroom and a few others. The student tries to intimidate female teachers and he verbally abuses male and female staff-members. When this student is present (which is every day) it is almost impossible to teach. Whenever this student enters the room, you can count on complete disruption. You can only hope to contain this student – because there is no stopping the behavior. I have taught this particular child for three years. And for those three years, he has been building towards this moment. Almost nothing has been done to remove this student from our school community. I fear that it is literally going to take a violent incident.

The sadder part still is that when I approach support staff to do something about this student, I am asked, “What did you do about their behavior?”

Well, let’s see. I told you about the behavior several times. I documented it. I tried to contact a parent, but the phone numbers I was given didn’t work. Then, in the interim, I spent my time teaching classes.

You know, actually teaching.

Eventually, the behavior spirals out of control and the student is arrested. Then, you get the indignity of hearing that the student should not have been arrested for his behavior. Really? Telling school security to “fuck off” and resisting with physical violence and threats doesn’t warrant being arrested? Finally, after weeks of similar behavior that seemingly went unpunished and virtually ignored – the student gets arrested.

Frankly, everyone associated with this child breathed a sigh of relief.  We can actually teach for a few days.  Even his classmates were glad he was out of their hair.  One of the children told me about the arrest and she said she was happy because, “Now, I can learn something.  And, my class is constantly getting ‘held-up’ by his crap.”

Day-in and day-out, I watched this student go in and out of classrooms disrupting teachers and making instruction impossible. I watched this student sit in the back of my classroom and lie to my vice-principal during an informal observation – telling the administrator that (the student) was unaware of any assignment he was given for that class period. Knowing the student’s history, the vice-principal took the student’s word over mine.

This par for the course here. A week after the student lied to my vice-principal’s face, this particular student threatens a staff-member with violence and leaves the building “with the bracelets on”. He will return to our building, next week.

I guess my question is, “Why?”

Why is a student allowed to return to a building after threatening staff, resisting arrest and verbally abusing anyone within earshot?

Can someone tell me?

This student wasn’t just having a “bad day”. This is a constant pattern of behavior that is worsening. It gets worse because this student has almost never been made accountable in any way as “end-game” as this. This child doesn’t need a hug, at this point. This is bigger than that.

As I said when I started, I don’t really come to preach. I don’t come to offer solutions.

I have come to tell a story.

I don’t mean that in the existential way.  That is fairly immaterial to me, at this point.

I am pointing this question at what I see in schools.  As a teacher, I frequently find myself asking questions like this one.  All of the responsibility seems to be on the teacher.  It goes beyond mere teaching and learning.  It seems that teachers are now responsible for raising kids in inner-city schools.  They are supposed to be police, pastor and psychologist in the space of a school day.  These duties are piled on top of the normal task of actually teaching kids who, in many cases are reluctant to learn.  

I don’t have the time or the energy to sit here and wonder why this happens.  I am not here to throw around theories.  I have talked myself to death with my colleagues.  We have tried to distill the problem into something we could easily bottom-line.  

Guess what?

It can’t be done.  The simple truth is that many of the schools in this city are failing because they are filled with kids who come from pockets of society where education is not prioritized.  There is just nothing that any teacher can really do to change the level of disrespect that comes from a fair number of these children.  

Beyond that, some of the students are just violent and disruptive.  The only way to get away from this is to go to a school where the parents actually give a shit about their kids.  If you are a teacher, you are going to continue to be tortured be your district/region – punished simply for showing up to work.  All of the problems of these children are going to be put at your feet.  No one will ever make parents responsible.  And, you will never be able to make your school leaders responsible.  

They will just keep coming into your rooms looking for “word-walls” and test-data.  As if any of that can stop the violence in the most violent schools.  As if any of that can suddenly make students who are more interested in fighting and cutting school become more interested in being good students.

Keep dreaming.

Why aren’t more alternative schools being built?  

That is what I want to know.  When a student is so resistant to authority that he/she comes to school and winds up being arrested for threatening/assaulting a staff member, the “word-wall” is not going to turn them around.  At that point, it is time for that student to be removed from the school community and placed in a school where they can get help.  On top of that, the teacher might actually get something done in class and the students themselves might feel safer – and start believing that the system is made for the ones who want to actually learn.

Isn’t that why we are here?

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