On My Own
When I finished school, my wife and I moved to Reading, PA, where I got hired as a sub. Nothing could have prepared me for what I would see there. Reading was a small industrial city that took a dive when manufacturing up and left. When I arrived the inner-portions of town were largely populated by the poor and immigrants. There were shootings almost nightly. The median family income was around $25k, half the state average. The crime rate was twice the national average.
I'll never forget what I - even now - consider the worst assignment I have ever been given. It was a second grade classroom, at a school located smack in the middle of one of Reading's most violent neighborhoods. Granted, this was still my first year, and I no doubt made many rookie mistakes. But I simply could not control the class. They refused to listen to me. No matter how many students I gave warnings to, or sent to the office, no one was interested in listening. When one disruptive student put his head down to sleep on his desk I simply allowed him, thankfully that he was no longer making any noise. At lunch, I learned that already that year they had had 2 teachers quit. They were on their 3rd and she was out with laryngitis.
What was going on? I began to notice a profound contrast between schools based solely on the socioeconomic make-up of the demographic. In more affluent parts of the city (what few there were), the students were much better behaved and seemed more eager to learn.
next time: Other Coast, Same Story. I return to my native California, and find a similar pattern.