Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The System 1, Ms. C's Students 0

Something is wrong. Not small-time wrong, not wrong wrong like I forgot to send a Mother’s Day card, but life wreckingly wrong. The “system” in all its nefarious glory is destroying the lives of my students, and all I can do is watch. I have a student whose life is being molded by the failures of society. While my student wasn’t an angel, he definitely doesn’t deserve the damning changes and decisions that were and are made for him. While I really feel powerless to DO anything, I must say something.

Student M is 16 and just started his first job. He’s ED like the rest of my crew, but is relatively calm and shows effort in his schoolwork. M has the highest reading and math levels in my class and I’m really lobbying to get him moved into inclusion next September. M is the only student in my class who has never been disrespectful towards me, even when I am at my most demanding (or oblivious) as a teacher.

This week M brought in some photos to “show and tell.” Sonogram images. Four months old. My head was reeling, all I could think was that my student convieved while I was his teacher…why didn’t I tell him to be safe? Hell, why didn’t I discretely give him condoms? Why am I teaching freakin’ Ancient Greece BS when this kid’s life is going to revolve around providing for this child? Why didn’t I (or anyone!) teach this kid about not getting a girl pregnant? Oh wait…I remember now: Staff of my school was told to “emphasize abstinence” and only two people in the school were authorized to give out condoms, and only from 8:00-8:50AM or after school.

Teenagers have sex. Fact of life. Students with emotional disturbances have sex too, if not more sex, more often, with more people. I see it in my classroom, I see the students carrying photos of their babies, it’s not a secret. Why?! Why are we teaching abstinence to fragile students who are getting crazy like rabbits in the stairwell? Who does this serve? M is a bright student, M should be allowed to be 16, not worry about being a father next October. I had to leave the room when he told me.

“How do you feel about, M,” I asked.

He cast his eyes downward briefly, and he responded with a heartfelt “ I dunno.”

“Are you scared?” I inquired, never expecting him to answer.

“A little,” M said. And he collected his pictures and went to show someone else, conversation over. We haven’t spoken of it since, but it haunts my thoughts whenever I look at the boy. I can’t help him. What can I do?

I dunno.


Blogger Andrew said...

I thought school was hard in the seventies. I can only imagine what it is like for students now. Keep up the blogging. I have subscribed to your feed and hope to read more.

Andrew in Alabama

Wednesday, May 09, 2007 4:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, talk about heavy. But I hear these same stories day in and day out too, from my husband who is an asst. principal in a high school. I am in an elementary school, and i see the kids of today that will be in these same shoes in to few years. It's scary for us too. One of the phrases I like t tell kids (even my own 2 teenaged boys) is to make good choices, ones that you'll be able to live with forever. When I need to talk to a student, i always comes down to the choices we made, and most kids realize their choices are why they are in the hall, in recovery, or being singled out.

I too have subscribed, as I like to hear from teachers who don't sugar coat, but instead keep it real. our blog is just that.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007 5:22:00 PM  
Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

One of my boys pulls out the damn sonograms every other second and passes them around. I feel sorry for the baby, most of all.

But don't expect me to cheer, or approve, BabayDaddy. It's a tragedy for probably at least three people.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007 8:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*hugs* You've got all my admiration sweetie! We need to get together sometime!!! :)

When do you have 684? I've got Tues/Thur with some guy named Paul something.

Friday, May 11, 2007 2:42:00 PM  

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