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The Seventeen Year Old Eighth Grader

October 12, 2011

If a student doesn't do his homework, I have them write down why on a yellow stickie for my files.

Lemme give you a little profile on the 17 year old 8th grader in New Orleans. I should know. I have several of them.

The child is very proud of his age. He’s almost a man. He can almost be guaranteed to go to big boy jail, or OPP, one of the worst prisons in the country. He might have a baby. Or two.

He hasn’t passed 8th grade yet. He maybe hasn’t passed 4th grade either. I have one 17 year old student who aged out of 4th grade without ever having passed the state test for 4th grade. Fourth grade. You know, when the rest of us were 10.

The 17 year old doesn’t do homework. He has probably never felt success inside school walls. He can barely read, but his social life (and drug business) is booming. He’s stoned every day. His goal in life is to own a car.

These are not stereotypes. This is the real deal. I stand in front of these students every day, doling out raffle tickets like prizes, teaching vocabulary words and grammar concepts, high fives and words of encouragement flowing like the wine I drink at night to calm my nerves.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 12, 2011 7:28 pm

    I’m tweeting this, Sunny, so good. Thank you for doing what you are doing. I bet that are feeling the effects more than you know.

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