Lateral

In football a lateral is a backward pass. If the ball hits the ground it is similar to a fumble and can be picked up by either team who then take possession of the ball and try to move it forward to their goal.

In Philadelphia, many students are treated laterally. In one advisory only 11 children have been together all year. The others came from various schools. Teachers frequently do not have access as to why these students were transferred. What issues are causing their distress? It’s seldom cognitive, yet they arrive at a new school and magically their behavior is supposed to change.

In one recent situation the parent just came home from jail. In another the only known physical parent was murdered. These facts are learned through the grapevine, not from a Functional Behavior Plan. Is it a wonder these kids have more on their mind than academics? Inner-city schools need to address issues interfering with intellectual activity. When children are hurting physically we send them to the nurse. When they’re hurting emotionally we have nowhere to send them. Society through the schools needs to address social emotional issues and we need to involve the whole family. These kids are the ones charter schools won’t take and vouchers won’t help. They end up in our prisons and in time may come to be the greatest threat to our nation.

For preaching this I am considered by some to be a radical, a noise maker, a malcontent.  I maintain that I am devoted to my students beyond the realm of others who are only trying to advance their careers. Some see the students I am talking about as items that need to be swept under the rug lest they derail the ego train.

Even as I proof read this I am struck by the sadness and truth of what I have written. My message to the bureaucrats is to get real and let teachers help. If I as a teacher can’t help, and I (the teacher) am (are) the face the child sees every day, then what hope does this child have? The child has been dropped. Who will pick up this child and help them advance to the goal we share?

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One thought on “Lateral

  1. I commend your commitment to your students. How can we afford to let any young person fall through the cracks? I agree that we must first connect with these at-risk students personally and emotionally before we can reach them intellectually. As one caring adult who has the opportunity to interact with these young people, we must find a way to make a positive influence on them. Your passionate support is a great example of true teacher leadership – keep it up!

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