Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Diogenes struck the father when the son swore.

Picture this – you’re at work, minding your own business, when a co-worker / customer / clerk / other alliterative individual comes up to you out of the blue and says, “Hey, you know what I’d like to do? Punch you really hard in the stomach.” Then this person winds up and does exactly that. Twice. The person then attempts to run away, but you grab their bag in an attempt to hold them for the authorities whom a witness to the assault has just called. The assailant then says to you, “Your life is over – I’m going to kill you.” A security guard arrives and takes the perpetrator away.

You fill out sheaves of paperwork, including an injury report and a sworn statement and present them to your supervisor, who turns around and tells you that the person who assaulted you is going to press charges alleging that you grabbed them. You protest loudly - to the supervisor, to your union representative, to the police that you were the one who is the victim, that you were injured, that you have ten separate witness statement which attest to the fact that you were indeed assaulted, that you were minding your own business, attempting to do your job when out of nowhere you were attacked by a person who not only has a criminal record, but is currently on parole for a previous assault – but you are told that not only are you going to be investigated by an outside agency for unprofessional conduct, but that if you attempt to enter the police precinct to file an assault charge, you will be arrested and booked on the very same charge.

I know what you’re saying – “Valannin, this couldn’t happen. Criminals may have rights, but surely the justice system would never treat a victim in this matter.”

And I’d say, well, if you are a teacher in the NYC Department of Education, that’s exactly what would happen. Because that’s exactly what did happen to a friend and colleague of mine just yesterday. I’m not exaggerating or hyperbolizing – he was literally standing in his room, talking to a group of students when an 8th grade girl, who has been left back twice, suspended numerous times for various infractions, and arrested for beating the tar out of another student, approached him, told him she’d like to hit him, and then punched him in the stomach twice so hard that he doubled up and hit his knees. She laughed, and attempted to run away, but the teacher grabbed her backpack and held her while another student went to locate a School Safety Agent (who was most likely texting on a cell phone and eating chips). The girl was restrained by the officer, all the while shouting that she was going to kill the teacher; he went into his office to fill out various forms and statements.

When he presented his report to Principal Warbear, she informed him that the girl’s mother wanted him to be investigated for child abuse and that she was going to press charges. Despite his objections, and the witness statements, the principal told him that there was “nothing she could do,” because that’s what the parent wanted, and he would just have to wait until tomorrow to see what happens. He immediately called the police, who explained to him that yes, he could file assault charges against the girl, but since her mother had already done so first, if he entered the precinct house, he’d immediately be arrested.

So now this poor man, who is a 17 year veteran of the school, and well-liked by staff and students (well, all but one apparently), has to spend the night in mental agony – tossing and turning and twisting his hands together, all the while wondering, “What did I do to deserve this? Why have I been betrayed by the very system I have served for so many years? All I wanted to do is teach…”

But there is no teaching left to do, ladies and gentlemen. We are but mere babysitters (albeit very well paid ones) to the immoral offspring of an amoral culture. A culture that disdains education, ignores ethics, but glorifies greed and violence and selfishness. And why not? That’s all they know – from their music to their movies, from every word uttered from their ignorant lips. We’re talking about a culture of people who have almost unanimously decided that it is perfectly acceptable to call each other “Nigger,” just as long as no other culture dares do the same (not that I'd want to; I personally think that anyone who freely uses this expression should be summarily executed, regardless of their race). A culture that defended the song “Cop Killer” as “art” and graffiti as “self-expression.” A culture whose yearly parades, festivals and parties erupt in an orgy of violence, destruction and rape. This is the “urban” culture, the ghetto mindset – a celebration of depravity and lawlessness and entitlement.

And this is who we attempt to teach. A Sisyphean task with no equal.

Futility, thy name is The Department of Education.

I spent my formative years in a Catholic school (which explains, in part, my raging atheism), back when teachers were regarded with sort of a hushed reverence. Students sat in the classroom silently, we took notes, we raised our hands, and we did our homework. And God help you if you spoke out of turn, interrupted the class, or defied the teacher – you’d get a smack on your hands with the ruler from the teacher, and then a few more from your parents after your home was called. Where I come from, parents worked with the teachers to ensure that their children were 1) receiving a quality education, and 2) behaved in class. Sure, we had a handful of troublemakers, but they were identified early, expelled, and sent, coincidentally enough, to public school. See, when a parent has to write a check each month for their child’s education, they don’t want to put up with any nonsense. They have a vested interest in their children, the school, and thus, the community as a whole. Ghetto parents have none of these sentiments. School, much like their rent, their welfare check, and their food stamps, is free, and as a result, they have absolutely no respect for the people handing out freebies. If anything, they view us as a bunch of suckers.

Step One in reforming the NYC Public School System? Charge the parents tuition. It doesn’t have to be exorbitant, but it has to be enough to make a statement to a culture of people who care about nothing except the Benjamins. Hit them in the pocketbook hard enough, and maybe they’ll elevate education to a more worthy level on their hierarchy of priorities. Perhaps somewhere above “buying new rims for their cars” and “purchasing 71 pairs of sneakers.

And don’t think for an instant that this is an isolated incident – during my nine-year tour of duty with the NYC DOE, I myself have been sent to the hospital six times; a “student” broke all the toes in my left foot on my very first day in the classroom (more on that at a later date). I’ve got a file cabinet jam-packed with witness statements, injury reports, and safety grievances, not to mention an eidetic memory bursting with anecdotes and stories that, if ever brought to the public’s attention, would boil the blood of every John Q. Taxpayer living in NY City.

Which is what I fully intend to do of course. One incident at a time.

Before I end this tale, let me bring the readers up to speed on what happened to the student. I’m sure by now, you’re dying to know what sort of punishment is meted out to a thug who assaults a teacher in a NYC public school:

Nothing. No expulsion, no suspension, hell, she wasn’t even given an hour-long sentence of clapping erasers after school. She was however, in class the very next period, telling another student that she was going to “punch him in the fucking face,” because he was “a pussy.” May I remind you, dear readers, that the child in question is a 14 year old girl.

Who, in four years or so, will become pregnant, send her bastard offspring to public school, and thereby continue this nauseating and frustrating cycle.


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