Sunday, November 16, 2014

What I've Witnessed

Some people are astonished that I left Dallas ISD before the school year ended. Others have been giving me a standing ovation for leaving. And others have been baffled that it took me so long to leave. Most who know me know that I rarely like to give up on anything, but we all have a breaking point. Some of us know where that point is... others finally just have to understand that you aren't really living anymore and simply surviving and therefore make the conscious decision to change it. For me, it was the need to change, to return to being the parent, wife, and person I was before this school semester started.

While the loss of income will hurt, I gain a less depressing view on life, which had I continued would probably have left me spending millions of dollars in therapy anyway. During my time there I seemed to consistently see the 'worst of the worst' in regards to society. I had grown up with the belief that if you work hard and honestly you can accomplish anything. The world was mine so long as I was willing to work for it. I didn't grow up rich and I still don't think I'm rich, but I still believe that anything is possible and everyone should attempt to fulfill their dreams and create a better future for themselves and others. Perhaps I was naive, or young, or just a hick from Kansas, but that viewpoint or belief was obsolete within the urban city limits of Dallas. Instead most of my students held the belief- "Want it? Lie, cheat, steal no big deal."or "Life sucks and it doesn't get any better, so do whatever you want without responsibility or regret because you only live once." As a result of this mentality I saw many middle schoolers doing drugs (inside and outside of school), having premarital sex, getting pregnant, aborting their babies or using them for additional government assistance, fight because they misheard someone say something, fight to resolve any kind of problem, physically assault a teacher, verbally abuse teachers and peers, bullying others, attempt to take food from pregnant teachers or teachers in general,  and a complete disregard of the education system, because ... well.... why do they need it when parents give them smartphones from their government assistant checks. I've had 7th grade students who have ankle bracelets, no legal documentation, and some with a birth certificate showing them to be 17 years of age.

I would say that 70% of my class fell into this category and maintained that outlook on life. The remaining 30% were the ones I regretted leaving, because I wanted so much for them. But with the ever demanding stress of unlimited paperwork, mandatory Saturday school, mandatory tutoring after school, advisory period to teach them "life lessons- such as don't cheat, lie, steal, etc...", none of it seemed to change their outlook- "Want it? Lie, cheat, steal no big deal."or "Life sucks and it doesn't get any better, so do whatever you want without responsibility or regret because you only live once." And therefore, classrooms became a war zone between teachers who wanted to educate students versus students who wanted nothing to do with school or a life lived honestly. Many kids told me they weren't going to go to high school because they were going to 1) deal drugs, 2) prostitute themselves, 3) have baby's daddy take care of them for the rest of their life 4) sit back and collect from the government, 5) work with mom or dad doing odd jobs, or 6) rob from others if they wanted something. Few wanted out of the system, they were content to just live within the horrible life they had and would resent teachers who told them they had an opportunity to do otherwise.

And so, with all the unappreciated work, the 70% of students who refused to get an education, and all of the hours taken away from me and my family, I had to leave. The best thing I could do for myself, the school, the students, and my family, was to go before my mind mentally just snapped in half. So I'm dedicating this time to my family, my mental health, and a chance to find rejuvenation and peace before returning to the workforce. This experience has not stopped me from wanting to teach (although we've already had 8 teachers leave my school between the months of August to November), and I know that teaching is never easy, but I do look forward to a time when I can get back in the classroom.

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