Friday, October 26, 2007

Day 38

Nat is one of the young men I particularly like. He rarely comes to school, but does extremely well on his tests. Lukie and I seat kids with troublesome behavior near Nat because he calms them down. There's an inexplicable gravity to him. He's not a large kid by any means, but he has a look about him that says "I ain't fuckin' around." Nat tried to wrestle me one day and was confounded when he couldn't move me an inch. "This nigger strong," he announced to the class.

I had at the time never been called "nigger" before, and didn't know how to respond. So I ignored the word and said with a smile "You best remember how strong I am."

One day I shaved my head bald and Nat said "You look like a toad!"

"A toad?" I asked.

"Yeah, like a toad coming out his shell and shit." Turtles, toads--what's the difference?

Lukie and I were in the guidance counselor's office today discussing some students. We mentioned Nat and immediately Miss B got serious. "You need to watch out for him. He killed a man. The police are unable to hang it on him, but everyone knows he did it. The other students are terrified of him. There's talk that he might have two or three kills under his belt." I thought of Nat's mile-long stare, the way other kids don't play when he's around. I was no longer surprised by his gravity.

A fourteen-year-old boy. One (and perhaps more!) of the 250-odd homicides in B'more this year belongs to one of my kids. Makes reading articles about flintlock mustkets and the American Revolution to him in Language Arts class seem rather quaint.

Lukie was devestated. "I knew he was into some heavy shit," she said, "but I didn't think he was black-hearted."

You don't have to be black-hearted to kill on the streets. Sometimes it's just a matter of you or the other guy making it to tomorrow. Nat's in court today but we're not sure why. Could be 5-0 found some new evidence, or it could be they're jacking him up for throwing rocks and bottles at cars, or stealing road signs. Whatever it is he'll likely be back in school next week.


casey said...

I mean, that must spook you out, too, right? I don't know how I'd ever get a handle on teaching somone so young who'd allegedly committed such a crime. I know it's kill or be killed, but that shit is just too intense.

Again, here's to you.

say, wouldn't it be amazing if there was a law barring private fuding from political campaigns, and big money was no longer part of electoral politics? Maybe then we'd find leadership that would put our tax dollars to use for something more important than militaristic misadventures and swollen defense budgets. Like, say, better funding for inner city schools and parental outreach.

Just a thought.

Nyarlathotep said...

Here I sit in one of the bluest cities in one of the bluest states, a town with an incorrigible liberal streak--and the City schools are a catastrophe.

Our big problem is the corruption--political and institutional--in the City and school headquarters respectively. The Democratic machine is virtually unchallenged state-wide, and has a lock on the City. The school headquarters needs the ground to open beneath it. People would cheer.

Federal intervention could help, but the idea that a law like No Child Left Behind is going to help is ludicrous.

casey said...

Yeah, institutional corruption will always be a problem be it the politburo or urban school adminstration.

My own knee-jerk liberal tendencies have taken a backseat of late, due to having peeked behind the Wizard's curtain. Still, I view the larger issue of ethics and resource management as a top-down problem, meaning that as long as our uppermost gov't. executives participate in cronyism and corporate favoritism, the public will continue to have their most basic interests betrayed. Not just by lack of money but also in the dearth of responsible leadership examples.

In DC, corruption is likewise a major component of doing civic business. So your sinkhole fantasies are shared!

Nyarlathotep said...

Historically these things are cyclical. Hopefully everyone has tired enough of the cronyism at all levels to start voting in folks with integrity, and we might end up with a decade or two of relative honesty in government. The City school system has a new CEO who has been firing home office dunderheads at will. Refreshing!

And as for teaching a murderer? It doesn't skeeve me out as much as I would've thought. Before I applied to this program I'd applied to work as a detention center educator.