The next Einstein may well be an illegal immigrant already living amongst us
I was just discussing with a fellow teacher our most important role in helping teens become independent as adults; I told him that I had met an ex-student, a special education one, working in a supermarket packing goods for customers. It was a most uplifting experience as I had some doubts as to whether he could make it in ‘real’ life, considering his low intelligence level and lack of motivation while in school. Of course, bagging products doesn’t make one financially independent, but at least he has made the effort to get a job and earn a few dollars, a boon for his parents without a doubt.
Title: I’m Rich, I Quit
“Being a teacher is a vocation, not a job” (The author)
As an informal experiment, I asked 10 teachers in my school to answer the following question: “If you won the lottery biggest prize, what would you do?”
Only 2 instructors answered that they would continue to teach for at least five years. The others promptly said that they would ‘retire’ and enjoy their new found financial freedom, though a few of these emphasized that they would use their money to help society, whatever that means.
“Life doesn’t give bad grades, only pink slips” (The author)
The day the classroom teacher was absent, I tried to get the students to work on the assigned task. For some reason, teens think that a day without a classroom teacher is a free day. I have seen this happening again and again, even when the teacher had threatened to give a zero to those who failed to do the work. As an inclusion teacher, I have no power to assign grades and that factor makes the kids decide that they may as well talk and have a good time.
It’s a lot more difficult for our mostly Hispanic students to break the cultural bonds and exterior limitations imposed by the outside world than, say, kids born in Boston or New York. Yes, people native to the Rio Grande Valley consider themselves as a big family composed of a mixture of Mexican and American cultures. Charro Days, for example, is a festivity attended each year near the end of February by almost 70,000 people. It celebrates the bonds and mutual heritage between two close knit cities, Brownsville and Matamoros; both urban areas “touch” each other on either side of the border, while connected by three very busy international bridges.
“Every student is a young plant which we, the teachers, must water and nurture to make sure it will grow into a magnificent specimen of our society” (The Author)
What’s with modern students? Is it me, too old to adapt or are the social mores changing so much? Even teen girls pepper their language with the f.. bomb, as if using an everyday term (it is for them, apparently) and none of the boys seems shocked or taken aback by such vulgarity. That’s for those who speak English with their friends; for the rest who use Spanish, the majority, the vocabulary is just as bad if not worse in a school that harbors 97% of Hispanic students .
The horror in Connecticut, the massacre of more than 20 children and teachers, is a reason to say ENOUGH. Our schools as a whole do not have sufficient security to prevent madmen and criminal elements from entering at their leisure, as I have witnessed on countless occasions in my high school. Adults without an official name tag circulate easily among students and nobody, least of all security guards, asks them for their business. Lucky for us that no psychotic or high on drugs gunman has yet taken his frustration on us. Drugs, yes, unfortunately. Bullying, yes also. But no shooting tragedy so far in my school.
Most politicians talk vaguely about new measures to control the sale of guns and the access to assault weapons, a no-brainer for anybody with common sense. And yet school killings seem to continue unabated, including the nightmarish Virginia Tech murders which held the infamous records of most deaths until now. What kind of deranged man, yes, man, as no woman has ever attacked a school as far as I know, can coldly shoot children in any setting? Only the religion-crazy Talibans can claim this kind of barbaric act with their suicide bombers and their shooting of a Pakistani girl just because she wanted to go to school.
But we are not a nation controlled by religious extremists, though I would rather classify them as freaks of Nature, as denizens of hell than human beings. We had our taste of nutcases with the characters of the Crucible (Arthur Miller’s masterpiece on the Salem hangings). But that was in the 17th century; I want to believe that we have progressed in wisdom and religious tolerance since. Was that gunman in Connecticut connected to Islam and/or the Taliban? If the answer is yes, let us immediately circle our wagons and protect our borders against the deranged Muslims and let us protect our school against anybody who tries to attack our youth.
An interesting experiment is taking place in the U.K.: They call it the Nanny Intervention, appropriately, since an actual trained woman is sent to dysfunctional families or to parents incapable of educating their children properly. The goal is not to separate families as happens with the foster system, often with traumatic consequences. The lady, a mother herself, is charged with helping raise the kids while educating parents at the same time. I have seen my ample share of incompetent parents, from the very young ones (kids having kids), to the careless and totally inept. Depending on the situation, the nanny will stay for days, weeks, or even months. Of course, this is government intervention at its worst but it has the merit of leaving children with their original creators whenever possible.