Saturday, June 1, 2013

Is that all we could do?

The subway series was in full swing this week.
The Knicks and the Rangers got themselves eliminated from the playoffs, so all that was left to talk about in 5th period math was baseball.

Terrel was recounting the unbelievable success of the Mets.  He gave the pitch by pitch recount  (and thanks to an inherited affinity for the Mets coupled with a disdain for the Yankees- I was able to ascertain the veracity of the report).

Terrel can't remember which line is the X axis and which is the Y, and counting up the boxes for a rise over run calculation of slope, is way out of his league, but even his least favored sport- baseball, was getting an accurate and complete review.

I asked, "Terrel, is there any sport you don't follow?"

"No Miss,"  Terrel answered with a shrug and head thrust.  Terrel has this tic that makes him the kind of person you worry about sitting next to on the bus and then hate yourself for being that way.

"I'm trying to figure out rugby." he added. "But, I haven't gotten all the rules down yet."

So I asked him if he saw the movie Invictus, about Nelson Mandela rallying a post -Apartheid South Africa around a predominantly white rugby team.  

He didn't.  He thinks he's heard of Nelson Mandela and South Africa.  Apparently social studies is no less of a struggle than math.

I'm glad he's happy and talking this week.  Last week the current event horror story of the week had a direct impact on him.  A fourteen year old girl was shot to death on a public bus on the way home from a sweet sixteen party.  Perhaps the bullet was meant for the girl next to her, perhaps it was random. I don't watch carefully, the "if it bleeds it leads." stories on the local news.

But Terrel was devastated.  "She was like a little sister, to me Miss," he told me."I was going to take her for a tattoo and now I'm going to the funeral." 

I told  the principal the story, and we looked at Terrel's academic records.  Terrel has passed everything and has lots of a academic credits. But with the exception of the math Regents his highest Regent grade is 12.  Way below the chance level.  

How could that be?
I cannot speak for anyone but myself.  
I will give Terrel a passing grade.  He comes everyday, willingly gives a complete and thorough sports cast and then makes an attempt to do the math. 

I cannot, in all good faith say he earned a high school credit worth of math, but I cannot live with the thought of not giving him a credit for doing what he could and never not showing up for another day of trying to do it all again the next day.  (And an audience for the sport's news of the day)

The principal shook his head as he read the record.  "If this is all we could do for Terrel, was this the right place for him?" he asked.

The principal and I came to the school late in Terrel's high school career, but I don't think we could have done any different.  The current climate of No Child Left Behind and the other nonsense means Terrel has no choice but to take a series of college prep classes that he passes but does not understand.  Then the gate of standardized testing slams shut in front of him, not allowing him to graduate with a "real" diploma.

The city promises it is opening more career and technical high schools next year, too late for Terrel, but who knows if others like him will get a better chance of course work that might make there life easier. 

I will make sure Terrel registers with the office for vocational training.  
Then when he leaves  I will wish him well. 
And hope that he will have a place in his future to be safe and happy and audience willing to listening to the recount of latest game.

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