SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: A South Bronx Attention Deficit Stream Of Consciousness

Monday, May 30, 2011

A South Bronx Attention Deficit Stream Of Consciousness

I did it. I don't know how. Hell, I am still trying to figure out why. But, I survived 31 days with my wife in Hong Kong. Hey, I have only one child, but still, I was basically a single parent for a month. Now mind you, in no way am I comparing myself to single parents. But, I feel that I have walked in their shoes, and my respect for these parents has only been strengthened.

Tuesdays and Thursdays were particularly nerve wracking. My son had baseball games both nights, every week at 6 PM. On Tuesdays he would be picked up at school by grandma and brought to religious school. I would pick him up there at 5 30 and take him to his game. The game was over by 8 and we would go home, make him dinner, make sure he started homework and reading and then do radio show at 9 PM. I would put him to bed at 10 PM. Thursdays were the same. Except a friend would pick him up at school and bring him to his house and then do baseball. Meanwhile, I would go to 37th St and pick up my wife's check, deposit it, and drive home to get to ball game. Both days I did not have a chance to chill until after 10 PM.

There was a Sunday in which we went with friend and his son to see the Bridgeport Bluefish play. We had to leave the game around 4 30 because I had so much to do. When we got home about an hour later I had ten minutes to myself. I then started dinner, got the laundry separated, finished dinner, threw the laundry in, and made sure my son was doing his weekend reading, yada, yada, yada. I was pooped.

I was lucky. I had a support system. I had grandma, I had friends, I had my sons afterschool program where he was able to do his homework. We have stability and expectations at home which have been preached and practiced from day one. There were times during those 31 days that I slacked, that I forgot, that I gave him a donut sandwich for breakfast. I felt overwhelmed at times, I wanted to do a primal scream, I wanted some me time. So it got me to wondering.

How many of the thousands of single parent families that we as teachers come into contact with every single day cope? Now, I am not putting all these families in the same category, but when we as teachers are to be judged by these test scores, these middling, unrealistic expectations at times when we are in situations, or cope with situations beyond our control, why is the onus on us?

Hey, I know what the detractors are saying. "Ah, you just don't care, you just want to get paid and leave at the end of the day." Bullocks.

Hey, you try it. I can''t imagine what it must be like to be a single parent with more than one child. I am sure the vast, vast majority of these parents care for their children. But it is so easy to take the easy route out. It is so easy to put off making sure your child has done their homework, that the child is properly fed, properly clothed, properly stimulated.

What must it be like to be a single parent and not have a support system, not have to worry from want? Not have to worry about your child being influenced by outside influences.

I want you all to understand that in no way am I making excuses nor blaming the parents. Quite the contrary. I am giving explanations. We have these students for 6 hours and 20 minutes. Unfortunately for most of them, they go home. We do not know what happens behind closed doors. Which reminds me.

Growing up, there was a family across the street from me that seemed like the American wet dream. Mom, dad, son and daughter. Dad worked with mom. Dad coached Little League. The son was my age. He seemed perfect. Was so nice and neat. Great athlete, prime and proper attitude. The daughter was a princess. All seemed so All-American. But, they moved away in 1977 and never saw them again. That is until...

Thirty years later, about 4 years ago, I ran into the daughter. The dad had been dead for about 6 years. She told me that dad was a major alcoholic. That they were terrified of their fathers and his bouts of rage when he was drunk. All of the sudden, the All-American family was not that anymore. Pieces of the puzzle were being put together in my mind as I looked back at those years. The family that was, was no longer. I didn't know, I never was cognizant of it, but how could I? No one could ever know what happens behind closed doors.

So I guess what I am attempting to say, in my own convoluted, ADD way, is that when we put these phony benchmarks, these phony algorithms up to measure student success, is that we have no idea what variables, what outside factors that we will never control, to judge not only students, but teachers as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was a very insightful post, I think possibly one of my favorites.
Another theme also runs through my head (which is also from Charlotte's Web), "Do not judge by a book by its cover.".