This is not the poorest school I’ve ever taught in. Nor the most disorganized. Nor my first all Black school — I taught in the West Indies. But it is poor, disorganized, and located in my hometown.
By far, these are not the worst discipline problems I’ve encountered. (I taught in a school for the behaviorally disordered.) But, most poignantly, a lot of these kids are genuinely mentally ill. Just the pervasive abandonment issues alone are almost tangible.
I do an intake on each student. I interview each student individually. Name. Address. Phone. Parent/Guardian. And so on like that. There is only one kid in my homeroom who comes from an intact family. Two have fathers in jail. One’s mother is in jail. About half cannot give me their fathers’ addresses. Two don’t know where either parent lives. Two don’t know their fathers’ names. One cannot readily recall either parent.