Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Tough School

I taught at a tough elementary school. No one can ever say, “You don’t know what it’s like to deal with kids facing tough, modern, social issues.

Picture this: fifth graders. Cute little eleven year olds. However, one of the girls in my class had an older sister who was in a local girls’ gang and my student joined this gang. Her initiation? To have her tongue pierced. She came to school one Monday with her eyes bugged out, her lips sealed yet her mouth acting as if there was a red-hot charcoal briquette inside, and she never spoke. Her best friend explains to me, “Mr. R., Maria has joined Las Malas and so she had her tongue pierced.” I ask Maria if it hurt, and she vigorously nodded her head. I watched Maria frozen in pain and shock for a few days, and then she came to school on Friday with a diamond stud in her tongue. She spent the rest of the year playing with it in her mouth. I am serious. She never paid attention to anything in the classroom again. All she did was twirl that stud on her tongue.

While this is going on, Manny brought a firearm to school and got caught. It turned out to be a small caliber revolver with one bullet, a blank, but it sure got Manny expelled. He was taught at home by a school district tutor for the rest of the year.

The last day of school, Maria “pants” one of the boys at the school during recess on the playground. That means she yanked everything, and I mean everything, down to the ground. Poor Antonio was a nice, respectable, polite, intelligent, hard working young boy with good grades. That was probably why he was singled out by Las Malas. Respectability and responsibility isn’t desired in a good-sized portion of that community, so Antonio paid the price……exposure of the most embarrassing sort. Maria? She wasn’t even sent home. There were only three more hours of school left for the year, and no one answered the phone at her house to come get her. The office sent her back to my room, and I refused to put Antonio through the humiliation of having her in the same room. I sent her back, and she stayed in the office for three hours.

I have heard things have gotten worse at that school.

1 comment:

tracy said...

How sad for Antonio, thank goodness for you! Imagine being Antonio and having to sit near her for the rest of the day. What worries me is that the "office" thought it was ok to send her back to you with no punishment, what message does that send? The tougher and meaner you are to others there are no consequences. And she is only 11, just think what she is doing at 14...