Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day 12

Just another day in B'more City schools.

Last period I took my 7th graders to an assembly. The AP was handing out awards for perfect attendance, honor roll, and most improved academics. It took a half-hour to get the kids in their seats and somewhat attentive. Miss B. was reading names and the kids announced were not happy to receive awards--all of them groaned audibly or looked terrified or both. It is not cool to achieve good things, and I'm not sure parading these youngsters in front of their classmates is such a good idea. Kids in the audience were audibly threatening the winners, and I'm not talking name-calling ("nerds" or "dorks"); I'm talking threats of serious violence.

Miss B. had students threatening her during the proceedings, until the Big Cheese came in and gave two boys long-term suspension. "You threaten my teachers," she bellowed, "and you are gone. 45 days!" She made a long speech about how many vacancies there are at B'more alternative schools. "You play with me," she said, "and you'll be on your way out the door. I might end up with 10 students in the building, but they'll be the best damn students in the world. We have excellent teachers here. You keep disrespecting them and you will be gone." She told the teachers to give her the names of perpetually troublesome kids every day. "They'll be gone."

Then she told the kids about homelessness and gangs and drugs and the fates of some of the "popular" kids in her high school. "A lot of them suckas is dead," she said. "They let kids manipulate them into fighting and acting cool. They are DEAD." Students who dared speak or slouch while she was speaking got ear-twists, butt-kicks, head-slaps. She kept 25 7th graders until 4:30 for daring to speak while she was speaking.

She will have to back up her words. That was the problem with the Big Cheese at my old school: all talk.

This morning between 1:20 and 1:30 am I received three prank calls on my home phone. Somebody mimicking a nasal white-man voice and saying "Sorry, buddy" over and over. I *69-ed the number and put it into Google and the first page that popped up gave me the latitude and longitude of the address to which the phone was registered. The address was a couple blocks south of North Ave on the East Side, only a five-minute walk from my school. I'm going to post the number on my board Monday morning in big block letters. The first kid who says "why you putting my number out?" is MINE.

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