Thursday, June 14, 2007

I Fail Kids for No Reason

Matthew was a problem. He didn't read the book, he didn't do homework, and he cut class. Also, he fully expected me to sign permission slips for trips he had already attended. I told him this was unacceptable. His language teacher, Ms. Scheisskopf, knocked on the door the next day with an inquiry.

"Why you no nice Matthew?"


"Why you no nice Matthew?"

What can you say to such an inquiry? I told her of his behavior in class.

"OK." she said, nodding furiously. "But why you no nice Matthew?"

I excused myself as politely as I could, and closed the door as Ms. Scheisskopf shouted something I was grateful not to comprehend. Matthew's behavior did not change, so I got a school aide who spoke his language to convey a message to his mom over the phone.

Matthew got the message that very day. He shouted at me in the hall.

"Do you know what it means when a teacher calls people from my country? Now I can't go to college! Now I will have to go back to my country!"

His friend, who'd been urging him to shut up, now dragged him away, and that was that, I thought.

The next day, my AP called me into her office.

Ms. Scheisskopf had called Matthew's mom to explain that it was not Matthew, but I who had a problem. It was, apparently, all my fault that Matthew was failing. Clearly I was "no nice." Matthew's mom called the school, and my AP had set up a meeting with Matthew, his mom, a translator, and Matthew's guidance counselor.

Matthew spoke first. I was not nice. I was always picking on him for no reason. I called his house and he hadn't done anything wrong. There was too much work in my class and why couldn't he be in Ms. Laconic's class? Her students didn't have to read the book, and she was very nice.

I showed Matthew's test grades--0, 14, 10, 0, and so on. I showed his attendance records, and all his cuts and latenesses. I showed all the homework assignments he'd missed, and he'd missed all of them. I told them about the trip form he'd submitted after he'd gone on the trip.

"Everyone does that!" protested Matthew.

"In my class, no one does that."

"Why can't Ms. Scheisskopf be here?" he cried.

"She has nothing to do with this," replied my AP, who appeared to be growing very weary of this meeting.

Matthew was told his class would not be changed, and that he would have to start doing homework and reading the book. Alas, while Matthew began to arrive on time and copy the homework on a fairly regular basis, he never read the novel we were studying, and was thus unable to participate or pass any of the tests.

I didn't call his house again.

He brought his mother up the last week of the semester to have a heart to heart with me, though she spoke not a word of any language I understood. I showed her his grades, all numbers she could understand.

She bowed her head and said something I took for an apology. Matthew gave me a dirty look, and marched off on that long road to summer school.

He was not at all accustomed to people he could not manipulate. Unless he gets a job working for Daddy, Matthew may be in for a very rude awakening.
blog comments powered by Disqus