I often describe the poor behavior at school. It's what I deal with most of the time, so it takes front-and-center during online kvetches.
But please understand--the kids aren't the primary problem in the City schools. The real problem is the crew of moronic, corrupt, inefficient adults who inhabit City schools headquarters, who mis-allocate funds into their own pockets, who write mandated tests which don't align with the assigned curricular pacing guides, who hire cousins to do shoddy repair work and get kickbacks from the contracts, etc.
I don't blame the kids for regarding school as a pointless waste of time. Most of them figure they are doomed to the streets even if they come and try their hardest every day, because the cards are stacked against them by generations of poverty, lousy teachers, and no support system at home. I've mentioned here before that some of our best students are those who rarely come to school. They stay home and read (or run with gangs) and often do better on the tests than those who are present every day. These kids can make more money in a few hours on the streets than they will make if they stay in school and get a diploma.
There are many hard-working teachers and administrators, and there are an equal number who deserve to be fired tomorrow for incompetence. I am sick, for example, of administrators who bust into my classroom to yell at good students because they have hoodies on when the heat doesn't work and it's 50 degrees in the building. I understand the uniform policy, but teenagers who are cold in a cold building, and who can't afford to buy warm garments acceptable under the rules, deserve some leeway.
The kids brighten my day, even those who wear my patience thin. They are funny, they are smart, they are creative, and daily they deal with things most adults could never handle. Yesterday a kid called Hammerhead by his peers because of the shape of his skull stood up, put his leg behind his head, and started hopping across the room like a flamingo. Lukie, who brooks no nonsense in her classroom, fell on the floor laughing. She had tears welling from her eyes for ten minutes, and kept giggling like a Bloopers show newscaster.
The kids also break your heart. The students asked me yesterday if I had kids during third period. I said no, and was asked in all seriousness by a student if my wife and I would adopt her. "My granny can't keep me much longer because she's losing her sight," she said.
All I could do was move on to problem #4 on our worksheet, discreetly blowing my nose.