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Sunday, May 30, 2004

Leaving Las Vegas

Life so bright. Losing your ass at blackjack on a Tuesday night.

Heading off to Sacramento tomrrow, where I aim to becom Schwarzenegger's right-hand man. We'll see how it goes. I may even abandon this blogging nonsense. Actually, I think I will. Yes. Poker and Liberty is shutting down. People just get too damn serious about these blogs. Everybody gets pissed off and loses their sense of humor. We'll see how it goes.

Comments-[ comments.]

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Black Americans are so fucked

Is it really time to just give up on them? Has the time come in which the culture has reached such a point of horrific disrepair that it is beyond redemption? I don't know. I hope not. However, my teaching experience has led me to believe that if there is any redemption - it won't be coming with the next generation of black youth. The black community's anti-achievement mentality is not just something that right-wing pundits mouth off about on talk shows. It's a very real and very destructive phenomenon that is destroying the black community. If you doubt this, then I challenge you to spend three months in the public schools.

This is my last week teaching and I'm pretty much pulling out all the stops. On Monday and Tuesday, I taught 8th Grade Geography. Teaching eighth grade is a very interesting experience. It is absolutely fascinating to encounter these people who are so convinced that they know everything that there is to know, but whose minds are completely vacant of anything worthwhile. That accusation is often used on college students, but I don’t think it is as accurate in that situation. College students actually know something about the world - they just think that they know more than they actually do. Eight graders, however, don’t know shit.

So I spent the entire class basically deriding everything that they hold to be true. I informed this one bitchy little white girl that there was absolutely nothing amusing nor original about her – that she was nothing more than a caricature from a bad WB teen drama. I filled all the kids in on the fact that MTV is anything but a network of rebellion. Instead, I told them, it is a massive marketing scheme that cloaks itself in rebellion while seeking only to make them nothing more than robotic purchasers of the clothes, shoes and music that their corporate masters wish to sell them.

There were many other conversations along these lines but the best, of course, was initiated by the black students. I was correcting their grammar everytime they opened their mouths and finally one of them told me that he doesn’t talk “White”. I explained to them that there is no such thing as talking “white” or talking “black”. There is only talking as an educated person and talking as an uneducated person. Theyt did not agree. I told them of how sixty years ago, blacks were not allowed to go to school with whites. In many regions, they weren’t allowed to get any type of education whatsoever. Consequently, they developed a manner of speaking that violated the rules of grammar – rules of which they knew nothing because of their lack of educational opportunities. When they say that someone is speaking “black”, I told them, they are actually referring to the fact that this person is speaking in the manner that an uneducated black person would have used before he had an opportunity to acquire an appropriate education. Fifty years after Brown v. Education, it is disgraceful that they have chosen to seek shelter in the ignorance from which their grandparents so desperately fought to escape. This speech was responded to with handwaves and “psssh”’s.

“You can ignore me if you want,” I told them, “But by ostracizing blacks who speak in an educated manner and encouraging others to speak in an uneducated manner, you are doing more harm to your race than the Ku Klux Klan could have ever hoped to accomplish.”

Then today, I’m teaching Fifth Graders. We’re going over the Bill of Rights. I’ve just begun talking about the Second Amendment when two of the black kids (there were only three black kids in the class, but – as always – they made themselves known) start talking some nonsense that they no doubt heard from some fucking hip-hop song about what they’re going to do with their guns.

At that point, I stopped the Bill of Rights discussion and explained to them that guns are for hunting or for self-defense. They are not something that you keep in your car as a sign of street cred. I then informed them of how the number one cause of death of black males under the age of eighteen is homicide. The reason for this, I told them, is because of this obscene mentality that you are displaying right here. This worship of the gun and the belief that it is a way to solve problems. I told them that it was awful that this belief begins to inundate them at such a young age, and that they really need to stop listening to that crap before they just become another statistic.

At this point, the one black girl in the class raised her hand and asked “Are you a racist?” I just wanted to fall onto the ground. I know that some of my more liberal colleagues may not understand what is so frustrating about hearing this question, but for those of use who have an interest in the welfare of the black community that transcends the condescending paternalism of the Democratic Party, this statement is pretty much the equivalent of “Why do you hate America?”

The awful thing is that you can’t blame the kids. Most of them have some whore for a mother, no father, they’re surrounded by adults who carry guns and smoke pot and drink openly. Can you really blame a black girl for speaking improper grammar and smoking pot when her slut mother does it all the time?

It’s still not hopeless, though. Yes, it is true that the majority of blacks are in the pockets of Jesse JacKKKson and the National Association for the Nonadvancement of Colored People – both of who desire to keep blacks poor and uneducated. However, there are also the Aaron McGruders
and the Bill Cosbys – people who want blacks to educate themselves and achieve within society. They are so few, though, so damn few. We can only keep hoping that blacks will, at some point, acquire a leader who will let them stand on their own two feet and face the internal problems that are the true cause of their miserable state of affairs.

Comments-[ comments.]

Friday, May 21, 2004

RANJA PASSES BAR EXAM!!!!!!!!!! RANJA PASSES BAR EXAM!!!!!!!!

After three years of getting C-minuses on virtually every test he took in Law School, self-proclaimed underdog Lewis Ranja has stunned the world by passing one of the most difficult Bar Exams in the nation. "It is Rocky, Rudy and Indiana Jones all wrapped up in one shining example of human achievement!" said one onlooker.

Lewis Ranja had no comment as he raced out the door to go play some fucking cards.
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Thursday, May 20, 2004

LEWIS RANJA DECLARES HIJINKS!!!!!

Lewis Ranja shocked the blogging community with the claim that the recent Poker & Liberty poll (see "A Final Decision is Required") was victim to unfair voting processes.

"I was willing to accept the results when I was tied with Holden, but now . . . now I'm just going to have to declare Hijinks!"

Supporting his claim, Ranja stated that the voting results were inconceivable since his blogsite simply is not frequented by nine people.

"Most of these people have jobs," Ranja argued. "I'm quite certain they voted twice - once at home and once at work. It's the only way I can imagine such a result."

Ranja further defended his assertion by claiming that wild, completely groundless speculation is all the vogue with other blogsites and he felt it was appropriate to bring some to his own.

In other news, Ranja drove a class of black fourth-graders into a frenzy today when he told them that rapper Fifty Cent was a worthless crack dealer.
Comments-[ comments.]

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

ITEM! Mary-Kate Olsen looks disgusting!!!

OK, so it's not solid news, but still - did anybody see Saturday Night Live? Jesus Christ, Mary-Kate looks like she just escaped from a three-year stay at a fat camp. She was a skeleton with skin painted on her. Yes, I would kick her out of bet for eating crackers - but I doubt that would be a problem.

ITEM! Ranja moving to Sacramento soon

Don't be expecting much from me in the near future. Maybe a few of those cool surveys, but that's about it. I'm moving to Sacramento in about 12 days, and I'll be spending all my time there looking for a job. All my current time is being spent playing poker, where I'm trying to get up some extra money for the trip.

ITEM! Best poker hand of month

This month has been going great, and I haven't even had to look at an ATM machine so far. Things were looking bad a few days ago, however, when I was down to six - yes - six dollars at a 4-8 game. I was dealt a Jack and a Ten. I went all in, and I had six callers. The flop comes down - Ten, Nine, King. A few people stay in. The turn card comes down and it's a Ten - giving me three tens. I'm quite excited about this and I don't give a damn that the Five-Seat has just raised, forcing everyone else to bail out of the hand. My delight shrivels up like Ted Rall's nuts at the sight of a genuine news article, however, when my sole opponent shows me Pocket Nines - giving him a Full House. "Fuck" I say, "Good hand". I'm pushing myself away from the table when the river card comes down . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

ITEM! IT'S A FUCKING TEN!!!!!!
This, of course, gives me four tens and the $40 in the pot. From there, I start a comeback that leaves me in the black $40 - more than enough for the week's groceries.
Comments-[ comments.]

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The sensitive Islamic world

Yes, the torture and mistreatment of Iraqi prisoneres by a small number of soldiers and officers was disgraceful. They should all be tried under American law and spend a lengthy session in prison. However, I'm quite sick of hearing about how these actions have offended the muslim people of the Middle East. We are told of how, according to the religious teachings of a homicidal warlord, sexual humiliation is one of the worst things imaginable. Is this somehow meant to make Muslims unique in the world? More delicate than us filthy Westerners? Last time I checked, Americans weren't too crazy about sexual humiliatiion either.

Once again, I must state that the Muslim community can - as an entire group - kiss my ass. So they're up in arms about a piece of white trash pointing at a prisoner's dick? That is indeed offensive. Clearly it's much more offensive than this. Where is the outrage in the Muslim community about this, or about 9/11, or about the Madrid bombings. Where are the marches and the signs to protest those actions? Until Muslims begin to protest these despicable acts in mass they are fucking dirt to me. Any mistreatment of them will offend me only because it is a violation of our principles as Americans - not because of any harm that it inflicts upon them.

This killing by an Al Quaeda agent clearly changes this war. As much as I believe we never should have gone to Iraq, we now have to stay because the battlelines have so plainly shifted. It is now us versus Al Quada and Associates. They have decided to make Iraq the official battleground of this war. As Dutch Schultz said - "He wants a war. I'll splatter the city with his blood."

I'm 100% behind our presence in Iraq now. I juwt hope Bush quits playing politics with it, and insteads bombs the shit out of Fallujah.

Go ahead, tell me how crazy I am, you nutjobs.

Comments-[ comments.]

Saturday, May 08, 2004

When PhDs and Lewis Ranja fight, it is the children who lose.

On Friday morning, I find a note on my desk requesting that I come by the office during my First Period planning. Christ, I think, I don't know that I can put up with much more of this woman's shit. When I reach the principal's office, Doctor Crippleawholegenerationofchildren is on the phone. She looks up at me, says "He's here" and then hangs up the phone. That can't be good.

"Mr. Ranja," she says, "It is 9:30 in the morning and I have already spoken with three parents - two of whom came in person."

"Really?" I ask, sitting down. "About what?"

"Primarily about what we discussed yesterday. Two of them were quite unhappy about their children having lunch detention when they did nothing to deserve it."

"Well, I know it was unfortunate that some of the kids had to get dragged into that, but I couldn't keep grabbing them one by one - it just wasn't working. I told some of the well-behaved kids that they should try to keep their classmates under control to stop things like-"

She actually waves her hand as if catching my words and tossing them back at me. "We do not do group punishments here. If there is a problem with an individual student, then you deal with that student. You do not punish the entire class because it's more convenient for you."

"All right," I say, not bothering to tell her that the class had walked silently and in single file this morning - for the first time that entire week. I really doubt that she'd give a shit. "I won't do it again."

"But there's a more serious matter." She looks at her notes. "During this lunch detention of yours, did you tell Tina that you hoped she brought some clean underwear with her after she requested to go to the bathroom?"

"Yes, I did. She wouldn't stop asking to use the restroom."

"Then you should have let her go."

"She was in lunch detention. She was being punished."

She exhales abruptly at the sound of that word, considers saying something to me about it, and then decides I'm not worth it. "After you sent her to the principal did you tell the children that you hoped she was crying and that, if you were principal, she would be crying."

"I didn't say that I hoped she was crying. I just told the kids that, when I was their age, that's what a trip to the principal's office would do to most kids."

"Was this said to embarass her?"

"No, it was just said because it was a fact. They said they weren't really afraid of going to the principal's office and I told them that, if I were the principal, then they would be."

That one gets a long glare from her. Unfortunately, it's the closest thing to an aggressive insult that I can risk with three more weeks in Vegas to go.

"Then did you tell the children that you thought you should be able to beat them with rulers?"

That was some fine work there. Take a statement out of context, without any of the surrounding humor, and then present it on its barest level. Well done. I explain that offense to her, although I'd be better off talking to the head of my own dick. She then tells me that there might be more parents coming in throughout the day, because these are "very serious offenses.

At about 2:15, the office calls me over the intercom. "Mr. Ranja."

"Yes?'

"Could you please come to the principal's office after class is over?'

"Sure," I say.

All the kids go "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"

I knew I was fucked at this point. For a minute, I thought about closing up the science book and talking to the kids. I didn't. I kept teaching science and that, right there, is my only regret from the entire week. For storytelling purposes, we'll assume it didn't go that way. We'll assume it went this way -

"All right. Close up your science books. No more science today." Kids cheer and applaud. "I just wanted to take a minute to talk to you all because there is a 99% chance that I won't be here on Monday. Some of you were a little upset with the things I did yesterday and so your parents have made certain that I won't be returning. To those of you who did that, I would like to congratulate you for successfully manipulating the system to work for your own advantages. That's a fine skill to have. However, I'd also like to caution you. The system that you have manipulated is not real. It's not true. It doesn't actually exist in the world around you. It doesn't exist in the society of which you will some day become part. Out there, nobody gives a damn about your hurt feelings. Nobody cares that you don't believe that what has fallen upon you is unfair. Ten years from now, you will not be able to cry to your parents and have them remove from the road whatever undesirable obstacle you have come across. The system that you are currently working within is very easy to manipulate because it is designed with the false notion that your twenty-four hour happiness is more important than your education. It believes that your right to remain unshaken and unstirred is more important than learning how to multiply or how to read or how to think critically. This simply is not true, however. You have no right - explicit nor implied - to go through life unoffended. You have no right to be free of authority figures who you consider to be mean or unfair. Someday, many years from now, you will come to that understanding and it will shake you to your core because, by the time this realization occurs, you will have spent twelve years in that system, and, because of your prolonged time here, you will now be weak, you will be powerless, and you will be far too uneducated to tackle the difficulties that will come your way. Your parents, your principal and this school district are turning you into emotional and intellectual cripples, and you should all despise them for this . . . . . . . . Questions? Comments?"

That's a much better story, don't you think?

In both versions, I end up at the principal's office, she tells me that more parents have complained and I'm booted out of the school. Hopefully, I'll get through my three remaining weeks without being dragged into the hearing that usually follows whenever a substitute is kicked out of a school. We'll see.

But that's my story. As much as I liked the idea of being able to teach a class of kids anything that I wanted to teach them, I'm not really pissed off about this for myself. I'm pissed off about it because it clearly exposes what is so blatantly wrong with our education system. Parents and students run the school, the principals kiss their asses, and the teachers are DPed (as they'd say on the pornsites). This is a horrible thing for the same reason that it is horrible when the President makes decisions based upon opinion polls. People are selfish and they are panicky. A President should be a person who puts the needs of the nation above those of self-interested individuals. Likewise, a Principal should be a person who puts the needs of the students and their education above those of some bitching parents.

The answer is simple. Get rid of School Boards. Replace them with a Board that contains the Principal, the Vice Principal, and three teachers that are elected by the staff. If a parent doesn't like what's going on the school, then you explain to the parent that his child has no right to a public education. If he doesn't like the school's policies, then he can pull his kid out and either homeschool him or send him to a private school.

That's it. That's the answer. This isn't the Israel/Palestinian conflict. This is very simple stuff and it has a very simple answer. Put the schools back in the control of the teachers.

So ends the lesson.

Questions? Comments?



Comments-[ comments.]

Friday, May 07, 2004

PhDs vs. CIVILIZATION, PART TWO

So it's Thursday afternoon and I'm in the principal's office. It's been many years since this scene last played out. Unlike those times, I feel no nervousness at all now. We're here to talk shop. Dr. Shitforbrains asks me what types of "consequences" I've been using to keep the kids under control. I tell her about lunch detentions and morning detentions and the kid who has to write a three-page paper on Charles Darwin.

I'm expecting an appreciative nod and a comment along the lines of "Well, it's good to see that you've taken initiative and have the class under control." Once again, I am a naive son of a bitch. Instead of saying anything along those lines, this pathetic woman purses her lips and shakes her head.

"The morning detention, you can do," she tells me. "But you can not request that the children arrive to school early."

"Why not?" I ask.

"Because many of them won't be able to make it."

"Well, I told them that if they couldn't make it then they'd have three days of lunch detention instead."

"You can't punish a chidl for something that's beyond his control."

"Getting detention isn't beyond his control. And part of the point behind detention has always been that it inconveniences the parents. They have to get up early or go to work late so that they can drop their kid off, and then they make certain that it doesn't-"

She waves me off and my head fills with blood. "You can not demand anything of a student's time before or after the time that we have alotted."

"So no afternoon detention, either?"

"No. I couldn't ask you to come in late, and you can't ask that of a student."

"Actually, you could ask that of me. It happens pretty frequently that a boss asks an employee to stay late."

She shakes her head. "I'm sorry. School regulations don't permit it."

At this point, I realized that I needed to just shut the fuck up. I only have to work four more weeks and then I'll be gone. My brain has always been a bit different than other people's. One such way is that I am at my safest when I let things boil inside of me. Once I start talking, I become angry, and the more I talk, the angrier I become. I knew that if I attempted to have a conversation with this staggering idiot, then I would doubtlessly begin yelling at her and then I'd be without a job. So I dug my fingernails into the palm of my hand and tried not to vomit in my mouth as I listened to her brain-killing excrement.

"That's fine," I say, "I'll just give them essays to write instead."

She smiles arrogantly and shakes her head. "What purpose would that serve?"

"Well, first of all, it would educate them on their subject matter. And second, it makes them lose an hour or two of their day. Instead of playing or watching TV, they have to do an assignment. After a while, it'll sink in that it's just not worth it."

"No," she says, dismissing the entire argument and revealing how fucking stupid she truly is. "All that will do is cause them to dislike their subject. If you made me write one hundred multiplication problems, then I'd just really dislike math."

I have to breathe in very deeply to not say "But you'll know your multiplication tables."

"Fine," I say instead, "Can I at least get them to write something like 'I won't talk in class' one hundred times?"

She actually laughs a little at this one. Stupid whore. "Again, I must ask you what purpose this serves."

"Again, it makes them stay inside. It punishes them."

"See!" she states with the excitement of a great breakthrough. "That is why we are not communicating here. You need to get rid of that word."

"'Punish'?"

"Yes. We do not punish our children. We give them reasonable and proportionate consequences to their actions. The days of having children write sentences on the board are long over."

Oh, you mean, those days when we had the best education system in the world and we didn't need a separate police force simply to patrol high schools? Yeah, those days were awful. Thank God we're done with those.

Dig nails into palm. Dig nails into palm.

"An appropriate consequence is to ask them to write out what they've done wrong and how they will improve their behavior."

"Can I tell them to make it three pages long?"

"That serves no purpose."

I've completely given in at this point and am ready to go into full nodding-head mode until she tells me to leave. However, there is one more arrow in this deranged quiver.

"I've received a complaint from one of your students," she says, picking up a piece of paper and reading off of it. "Did you tell your class that 'Smart people should live and stupid people should die'?"

I stare at her for a moment in what could be confused as blankness, but which is really just overwhelming bewilderment. Earlier that day, we covered the topic of Natural Adaptation in science. This led into a conversation on Charles Darwin. From there, I told them about how some have attempted to apply the philosophies of Natural Adaptation to humanity - basically that smart people live and stupid people die. Apparently, one of the kids who this theory would doom to death misunderstood me. I tell the principal this and explain that I'll be happy to clear it up, while at the same time telling the kids that they need to pay better attention in class.

"Perhaps you should just clear it up, and not lecture them, as well."

Oh yeah, because the worst thing in the world would be to ask students to pay attention, you stupid fucking . . . get up and leave, get up and leave.

So I left. I went back and clarified the social darwinism topic and told the kids that they clearly need to pay better attention, so that they won't misunderstand something when they wake up from a daydream. I also told Michael and Tina that they no longer had morning detention and they no longer had to write an assignment. They grinned from ear to ear at the news of this victory - knowing damn well what had happened. The smile vanished, however, when I told them that they had lunch detention all next week.

Unfortunately, I would not be there next week to enforce the punishment . . . er, consequence.

NEXT: THE FINALE OF OUR GRIPPING TRILOGY . . . . .INVASION OF THE PhDs!!! LOCK UP YOUR CHILDREN!!
Comments-[ comments.]

Thursday, May 06, 2004

ANY DUMBASS CAN GET A PhD IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

You all knew I couldn't wait a month to tell it. Let's dive right in.

I'd recently received my dream assignment. I was to have a fifth grade class for five weeks - all the way until I left for Sacramento. For the first week, I would follow lesson plans. After that, I'd be on my own. All the standardized testing was over with, and so I would now have a class of fifth graders to which I could teach anything I desired. I doubt there is anyone reading this who doesn't appreciate how wonderful a prospect that was.

It was all going well until Thursday. The kids acted up a little bit, but this provided me with a new and intriguing problem to solve. When you're subbing for one day, you can just send a troublemaker to the office and that's that. When you have them for a month, you have to be a bit more creative and find ways to deal with them that don't make you look powerless (like sending them to the principal). There were only two real problem kids - we'll call them Michael and Tina. Michael was just a good old-fashioned hellraiser who did not like being told what to do. I could respect that. Tina, on the other hand, was clearly used to getting her own way and having her parents and everyone else kiss her ass. She was very much surprised by the fact that I don't take shit from 11-year olds.

On Thursday, I had decided to bring the hammer down. The class was getting a little out of control and I feared that I was being too buddy-buddy with them. So that morning, I told them that there would be no more warnings. The first time that I said anything to you, then you had lunch detention. Not surprisingly, I had about eight kids with lunch detention when mealtime came around. So now, the troublemakers are really starting to dislike me.

We're walking to lunch and, as I watch over the lunch detention people, the other kids are causing trouble in the hallways. They won't line up, they won't be quiet. It's the same shit day after day - they can not follow simple directions. "All right," I say, "Everybody pick up your lunch and then go back to the room. You all have lunch detention."

Once we're back in, all the spoiled white girls are crying and saying how unfair it is that they have lunch detention when they didn't do anything wrong. I tell them that the world is a tragically unfair place and that they need to get used to this fact - the earlier, the better. At this point, the good kids were beginning to dislike me. I hate to use a worn-out phrase . . . . but I was about to be voted off the island.

Almost immediately, Tina starts telling me that she needs to use the bathroom. I tell her that we'll all be going as a class after detention. She is being punished right now and can not go anywhere. She says it's an emergency. In the two months I've been teaching, I've learned to tell the difference between an emergency and a kid who just wants to leave class. I say to her, "Well, then, I hope you brought a clean pair of underwear with you."

I mention that I need someone to clean the board and a bunch of hands go up. Kids love cleaning the board for some reason. I explain that this duty should be a punishment and that the cleaner should be someone who doesn't want to clean. So I pick Tina . . . . and this is where I sealed my fate.

"Tina, come clean the board," I tell her.

She keeps eating.

"Tina, get up here or you'll be writing a three page paper on Charles Darwin and the Galopogas Islands tonight." That was a punishment that I had already given Michael. I had also told some of the kids that they had morning detention and would have to come in at 8:30 tomorrow. That's all very important later.

Tina is still eating when she says, "I ain't gonna clean no board."

"What was that?" I ask.

She looks directly at me and says, "I said, 'I ain't gonna clean no board.'"

I'm quite certain tha my pupils dilated at that moment. "First of all, Tina, the proper way to phrase that sentence is 'I am not going to clean any board", or, perhaps, 'I enthusiatically and emphatically refuse to take part in the cleaning of any board whatsoever'. If you're going to butt heads with me, then I must request that you do it with proper grammar. We are, after all, in a place of learning. Second of all, get up here and clean the board or you're going to the principal's office."

"I don't care," she said (and I later found out that she truly had no reason to care).

"Really?" I said and immediately began writing a note to the princicpal. I handed to another kid, asked her to accompany Tina to the principal's office and that was that. I was fucked.

After she left, I said, "I wonder if she's going to be that brave when she's in the principal's office."

"They never do anything to you," this one kid says.

"No?"

Everybody murmurs their agreement and tells me that the principal usually just tells you not to do it again and sends you back.

"Well, she'd be crying if I were the principal. You can rest assured of that. You kids have it way too easy. I think we should go back to smacking you with rulers." I say this with a smile and most of the kids laugh.

When Tina's companion returns, I ask her "Was Tina crying?"

She said no.

"That's too bad," I tell her.

Sure enough, Tina returns fifteen minutes later. I ask her what the principal did and she says, "Nothin'." I tell her that she still has morning detention, at which time I'll expect her to turn in her three-page paper. She remains silent.

That afternoon, I receive a letter from the principal. It says I need to come by the office to discuss the problem with Tina. I assume this means that we'll be discussing Tina's past behavioral problems and how we can work together to get her to control herself in class.

I am so fucking naive. I think I get that from my mother.

NEXT: SOCIAL DARWINISM INVALIDATED.

(JLind may already know what happens in the next chapter - so don't give it away to those who haven't been exposed to the Lewis Carroll world that is the public school)
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Sunday, May 02, 2004

Add your own metaphor

On the heels of my first dispute with the Public Education system in ten years, it is good to know that there is still beauty and justice in the world.


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