Ode On the Ruin of Public Schools

Posted: October 16, 2012 in From Student to Teacher
Tags: , , , , ,

Some people see dead people…I see metaphors.  In fact, I saw so many metaphors in the movie, “Life is Beautiful” that when my husband (at the time) emerged from the movie theater so many years ago, and he sauntered nonchalantly to the car, while I was a puddle of emotional devastation, I knew at that moment we would end in divorce.

We did.

I believe it was Aristotle who once said that the true measure of genius lies in one’s ability to recognize metaphors (not dead people).  Now, I’m leagues behind genius status (although my IQ score was pretty high back in high school) for sure, but I do love metaphors and I see so much depth and relativity in life and literature through the vehicle of metaphors.  Sadly, many students struggle identifying metaphors.

Today, I spent a fruitful and productive half hour making my second batch of homemade laundry soap. This might seem like a mundane task to the rest of the world, and it is SERIOUSLY late for me, as I should have done this eons ago, but I feel such a sense of accomplishment doing something so budget-conscious and beneficial, that it makes me absolutely giddy.  Let me not forget to mention how wonderful my kitchen smells as I cook up the simple concoction. **See: onegoodthingbyjillee.com for the recipe.

As I slowly stirred the pot, two thoughts emerged and twirled around my consciousness.  My mood was significantly better than it had been for weeks as I enjoyed making this delicious laundry detergent for my family.  Yes…little things like that make me happy.  I’m sure hundreds of thousands of feminists are rolling over in their graves.

And then it occurred to me that even though the best of parents, with the best of intentions, have the best of children, and give them the best life has to offer, the essence of it all is that what is filling up the world today is a bunch of really screwed up, potentially sociopathic, definitely psychopathic, manipulative kids.  In fact, many some are quite rotten.

The subject of students is so massive and complex, that it is difficult to write about without feeling convoluted and begin rambling.

For every kid putting the proverbial apple on the teacher’s desk, there’s at least four who are trying to inject that same apple with cyanide, or arsenic, or their urine.

I stand firm on the platform that kids aren’t born that way. Yes, I blame parents.

I taught at one particular school in the suburbs of Atlanta for a few years and one program they had organized down to a science was called advisement, whereby each teacher in the school was assigned 17 – 20 students and had to meet with each student and their parent(s) to review each transcript, look over the course schedule for the following year, and plan each of their classes.  It was a lovely idea that took a huge burden off of the guidance counselors, who couldn’t possibly meet personally with each student in a school of roughly 1,800 students, except that it became one more chore and countless hours of work for teachers weren’t paid, to help students they didn’t teach, etc.

So here I am, sitting down  on the hard cafeteria table stool with mom and her daughter, my advisee, a precocious but viperish young lady.  We were planning out her schedule.  Mom made the deadly mistake of suggesting that perhaps the full load of advanced placement classes might be too much for her daughter.  The glare filled with venomous rage that child directed toward her mother seemed almost visible, like the aurora borealis lights in Canada.  Her words were a nuclear blast of ice and fire combined.

“Would you just shut up already, you stupid bitch?” she said to her mother between clenched teeth. “I told you.  I have it all planned out.  I know what I’m doing.”

I felt: A. Shocked     B.  Horrified     C.  Angry     D.  Outraged     E.  All of the above.

The correct answer, of course, was E.

I’m tired of reading polite blogs and articles by experts who sugarcoat the reality staring everybody in the face.  Teachers, it’s time to start calling it as we see it.  We all know there are some really great, kind, sweet, apple pie students out there; the kind that will buy you Starbucks without you asking for it, or leave little plants on your desk for teacher appreciation day.  Yes, we’ve got that.  Heck, I used to threaten my students when I was pregnant with my fifth child, to bring me their milks from the cafeteria at lunchtime.  (I craved Sunkist and milk; yes, disgusting!)

But because so many parents have relinquished their control and “pants-wearing” in this country, there are just as many, if not more, sinister, manipulative, spoiled, Jekyll and Hyde students who would sell their teachers into slavery, Joseph-style, if it meant they wouldn’t have to take that test on Friday, too.

A former colleague of mine, who is an OUTSTANDING, if slightly nutty, economics teacher, once had students take toilet paper from the bathroom floor (not good already!) and when she had stepped out of the classroom momentarily, they put it in her Chik-fil-A styrofoam cola drink.  Now, she was, and probably still is, one of those teachers students love, and wave to in the hallways, and visit when they’re on college breaks.  You know the kind I’m talking about.

So, if the students could do something so disgusting and just plain wrong, to that teacher, then imagine what they would do to the teachers they don’t care for very much…

Check out John Rosemond’s article about Sensory Processing Disorder below;


John Rosemond calls it nonsense.  And proved it was nonsense.

This reminds me of a problem my son seemed to have once upon a time.  He couldn’t sit still.  His legs were always shaking mildly.  But it used to drive me nuts, especially if he was sitting next to me.

Imagine, to my utter dismay, to see a commercial one night about a disorder called Restless Leg Syndrome.  When my son saw the commercial, he jumped up, let out a whoop of delight, and gave me the “I told you so” look, and demanded I make an appointment for him to see a doctor about his syndrome.

I stood up, slapped him on the back of the head, and went to bed.  We never discussed the subject again.


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