Jill had a real bad attendance problem and often displayed an attitude problem when she did show up in class. After four phone calls home, a call to guidance and no change, I gave up trying. There were so many needy kids in that one class I used my time and energy to work with the ones I thought I could save.
Jill came to see me the morning of last day of classes. She returned her book and then started talking to me, something she had not done all semester. She told me her mother has been extremely ill and she often stayed home, or left school early, to care for her. She told me it was hard to concentrate when she was worried all the time about whether her mom would live or die. On top of the worrying and the care for her mother, she had to take care of the house, doing all the cooking, shopping and cleaning. My heart broke as her story unraveled. She told me she tried talking to her guidance counselor earlier in the year, but he seemed disinterested and never made any attempt to help her or to even notify any of her teachers of her problems.
Jill said she did not want to fall a year behind in her school work. She had always been a good student and I could see from the little she did for me that she was bright. Her guidance counselor told me she is ineligible for summer school because of her attendance issues.
Before Jill left me, I put in a call to the counselor, and repeated exactly what Jill told me. I told him she was on her way down to see him. I don't know what happened. I do know that Jill will now be another child being left behind. I do know that Jill is another child the system is failing. Even if something is worked out and she is able to make up her credits, she will never be able to make up her education. Any chance she has of being successful is being squashed. This is one child not winning the Race To The Top.
Hey Mr. Education Mayor, what are you doing to help kids like Jill? Their success or failure needs lots of help. Keep cutting education budgets. Keep excessing teachers. Keep kids like Jill down. I imagine that is what you wanted from the beginning. You need an uneducated population to serve you and that is one thing you have succeeded in creating.
(Posted while in the air somewhere between NY and LA)