Monday, November 18, 2002

Have things gotten better at the Dirty Dozen, you may inquire? You better back up with that shit. (That's D.D. lingo) It's six hours a day in the Gibbon cage. My coping strategy is to stop living there constantly. I had a lovely weekend, celebrating birthdays and life, eating tacos, sirloin, deviled eggs, sweet and sour chicken, chorizo and eggs, and cookies. YUM. Went dancing at the Pyramid, jumping and scream-singing, my favorite kind. And I sorta found some resolution to my dissolution of expectations.

I could have found myself in a nice little teaching spot, say with second graders at one of the "model" schools. It's possible. I have friends there. But instead I was placed in hell for awhile. Sometimes people still say, "You're doing a good job with them," or even better, "You're such a good teacher," or once I got, "You're a hero." That was good. But everyday when I sigh, and then take in a slow breath big enough to fill the new and improved diaphragm, then scream-talk to pronounce my will over theirs, I simply say to myself, "I hate this."

I don't think the problem is with schools. The problem is with kids. I've got plenty of good, dedicated parents. It's the kids, and how they are influenced by what's around them. During one golden moment last Friday, some of my kids opened up about their fathers during a book discussion, fathers in and out of jail, who've killed people, who deprive their kids of love on a regular basis. That made me think for awhile about little Kevin's resentment, and Cherif's desire to inflict violence on his pop. But then there's Davon with his ma and dad right there, calm, guiding him sternly. Is it that people don't know how to parent? I don't know how to teach. I still think more responsibility should be placed on the kids. Maybe they're outright rebelling against the norms of this society as if to say fuck you white America, Eminem style. Fuck rules. Fuck making me do anything. I'm tired. I want to eat seeds and roll around on the floor, throw pencils, say fuck you to anyone who stands in my way. I don't know. I haven't gotten wise yet about these matters. Raising kids is quite the complex conundrum.

My resolution is that I can leave this behind without feeling like I couldn't cut it. I don't enjoy making people follow rules. Rules are what school is all about. I suppose it's what societies are all about, systems, yadayada. No thanks, folks. I'd like to fit into some other spot as a community helper. I have my dream job pretty clear in my head. I have trees and hills and open fields pretty clear in my head.

Sometimes finding yourself in extremely uncomfortable, non-form fitting situations tells you the things you need to know. For that, I thank my children. But I won't miss them next year. I'm not sentimental or idealistic about public school teaching in the least. I'm glad I'm here in the middle of it to know and to explore facets of our world. This one is shocking, but very real. Knowledge is liberation, my friends.

Philosopher V

Monday, November 04, 2002

"Demographics is desitiny in Texas tomorrow," so says some pollster talking to Lou Dobbs right now. Ron Kirk, he's our man. I have to say that politics has been boring the piss out of me over the past two years. Perhaps all the vim and vigor was syphoned out of me during the HISTORICAL, carnival-freak-show-esque past presidential election. Maybe it has something to do with 9/11, local debates losing their luster. But I read a great article on Kirk in the New Yorker a few months back and felt excited about championing the right choices again. Politics for me is all about what's right. It goes back to 1980 . . . while standing, waiting for the yellow school bus with Melissa Muench, the two of us got into it about what a pig Ronald Reagan was and how cool Jimmy Carter was, trying to rescue the hostages in Iran and all. (Future Habitat for Humanity peace, love and happiness guy, need I say more?). Well, Melissa didn't agree with me, so the two of us got loud, pointed fingers, and did a lot of standing with hands on hips. Nine years old, yeah. (historical tid bit--Melissa later became Miss Austin.)

I went on to University of Texas School of Government alumni status, worked for the elder statesman of the Texas House of Reps, and found my way into a seat in the audience of the Texas House Committee on Public Education's hearings for rewriting the state's education code. Fuel for my fire for the right choices, I tell you, Paul Sadler, he was my man--a now-retired state rep who headed that committee for 5 to 7 years. I am drawn by those who have the compass. They say what's right in a way you instantly recognize, but never could piece together in such a clear way yourself. Leaders define for us. They serve many purposes, but the one that makes me cry (I'm a bit of a freak show myself) is the way that they make oral art through definition.

Politicians have become our Howdy Doody cartoons, but leaders draw out the right amidst all that is messy. Go to the polls, all you Texans out there. Vote for Ron Kirk!