Tag Archives: school attendance

Heard some good news today

Way back in November I wrote about the little girl who needed an alarm clock. She and her brother were not getting to school on time and even the kindergartner believed an alarm clock would help.

After sharing the story with the attendance officer, she agreed, and said lots of students needed alarm clocks. I made it a point, from then on, to look for alarm clocks at thrift stores and yard sales. I’ve handed over quite a few to the attendance officer, so much so that she told another school about what her school chaplain was doing and recommended they get their school chaplain to do likewise. Of course, that school chaplain is a friend of mine! I’m sure I’m going to hear about this at the next chaplain’s meeting.

Today, while in the school’s workroom, I saw the little girl’s teacher and asked him about her. He laughed and said,

“I’m not too sure how it worked, but that alarm clock has turned the family around. The kids are never late. The mother has started taking a parenting class and she’s volunteering here in both kids’ classrooms. She’s been a big help.”

I don’t believe it was just an alarm clock. I believe that the kids and the parent realized someone cared about them and was willing to help them. It made a difference. I’m hoping such care and concern about kids and parents will make a difference. Some days I wonder, and then I hear a story like this.

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Nothing much changes

Teachers get blamed for everything. If students don’t do well in school, it’s because the teacher isn’t interesting or caring or well prepared. The teacher didn’t try hard enough, didn’t call home enough, didn’t encourage enough. The lesson should be jazzed up, made better, worked more diligently.

Because I teach in an inner city school with all the inherent problems, I see so many students who come to school totally unprepared for and uninterested in school. Asking them to sit still, be quiet, work all period, organize their work, turn in their work, is daunting, but I do it everyday. The teacher is too demanding. The teacher doesn’t understand the situation from which the student comes. It’s ok if the student misses class to take care of smaller siblings, a sick parent, or to work a job to help with the bills. No one says no to a parent who wants to pull their child out of school for a week or a month to return to Mexico for a family visit. This is all part of the culture. Teachers need to be more compassionate.

Then the tests are given and the students are not prepared because they haven’t been in class. The scores are low, and again the teacher is blamed. If you had tried harder, worked harder, cared more, the students of color would have done better. The achievement gap would be diminishing.

I have worked harder, cared more, done more, and it’s not enough to please everyone. After 18 years in the inner city school, working with kids from severe poverty, I am discouraged and feel beaten down. When will it get better? I truly believe that we should be producing a better student, but it is not happening for every kid. Too many are being separated by the achievement gap. Poverty is only part of the equation; culture is also an issue. Someone needs to speak against parents taking their kids out of school for a myriad of familial reasons.

I wrote the above post almost seven years ago, when I first started this blog. Holiday season was upon us, just as it is coming up this year. Parents at the inner city high school were planning trips back to Mexico for the Christmas season. They would be taking their kids with them. Or, I had students who had younger siblings and there was no child care except for the older sibling. So, when their brother or sister was ill, they had to remain at home, missing school. Nothing much has changed in the past seven years except I’m no longer there.