Saturday, September 09, 2006

Reading & Frustration

I teach a reading class. One of my students moved to our district from an inner-city school last year. She's had a tough time. Yesterday, I gave the students a vocabulary in context/comprehension/language terminology exercise. We "walked" through some of it together, and then the students had to finish it on their own (with continued support from me). I have ESL students who work very hard and will eventually "get-it" with continued work. I have one young man who is silently defiant--he's getting back at the world by failing on purpose. He's trying to gain admission into our alternative program on purpose. He'll show them! [sarcasm] Again, though, there is this one girl who I feel has been failed by the teachers of her past. We tried to help her last year, but from what I understand, she came to our district late in the year and kind of shut down from the stress our school can present.

Simply put, she can't read. I could tell by the questions she asked and the blank look on her face while she did her work. She'll be able to read fluently when I am finished with her. Why are urban schools different? Too many kids with too many issues? Why is my district so different from most others in my state? We have kids with learning problems, disabilities, and general issues of the mental variety. Those students tend to eventually do well in spite of their challenges. It's not money. Urban schools get more funding and pay better than my district. There is parental involvement and influence, though.

While I await testing results and a brief meeting with my young lady's guidance counselor, I can't help but judge a system that failed another human being who deserves a chance at life. I've had lengthy conversations with teachers from urban districts at different times over the past seven years, so I know there are teachers who do their jobs. Unfortunately, something is not reaching the students in that particular environment. Obviously, the "traditional" way isn't working. Someone needs to get the balls to fix it...hell, it is broken.

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