Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Loose Talk

Do you ever wonder what kids say when you aren't around? It might not be altogether complimentary. A kid blurted out yesterday, "My science teacher is a racist."

"Please don't talk in class about your other teachers," I told him. "If you want to complain about me, or if you want to talk privately, we can..."

"No, Mister, you don't understand. He's a racist. He hates everybody."

"Look I really don't want you talking about your other teachers in my class. But I have to tell you, you're not describing a racist."

"Why not?"

"A racist is someone who doesn't like you because of your skin color, your religion, or where you come from. If someone hates everyone, that person is equal opportunity, in a way."

"But Mister, he screams at everyone."

"Well, I scream at everyone too, and if you don't start writing, I'm going to scream at you pretty soon."

"No, Mister, you call my mom, and when you do, she screams at me."

"Are you calling your mom a racist?"

"No, I'm just..."

"Look, what would you like better--your science teacher screaming at you, or me calling your mom to say you don't do your classwork?"

"I'd rather the teacher scream at me."

"Well, there you have it. I'm worse than your science teacher, and worse things will happen to you if you give me a hard time. And I'm not a racist. Please be careful before you call people names like that."

I'm not at all sure the kid understands. I'll probably have to talk with him privately. But I could imagine a circumstance under which that science teacher gets sent to the rubber room, or is suspended without pay or medical benefits for 90 days or more for pretty much no reason at all. When you're a city teacher, especially after that 05 contract, you aren't necessarily innocent until proven guilty.
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