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Three Meter Zone | JD's Bunker | Poetry | Chapel | American Journal

I watched your kids today...

J. D. Pendry

To the parents of Jane and Johnny:

Hi, my name's JD. I spent 28 years in the Army, much of that time dedicated toward developing young people into responsible, productive and disciplined members of our society. Now I spend my days in a high school classroom doing much of the same thing for 14 - 18 year-olds - your kids. I have some great kids in my classes that are hard workers, well disciplined and ready to learn. But I have some others too...

Your 15 year-old daughter was escorted from my classroom under the influence of drugs this morning? While walking down the hallway toward the Principal's office she admitted "I smoked a little weed before coming to school this morning. I do most mornings", she added. "My mom already knows about it, but she won't do anything." If you want to visualize this, add to those statements some drug-high giggling, excessively tight jeans, an exposed bellybutton, too much makeup on a 15-year-old face, and a smoker's stench. That's the second time in nine weeks I've watched one of your children under the influence of drugs leave my class room. Two more of your 15-year-old daughters, maybe one was 14, have not returned to my class since they turned up pregnant.

Right in the middle of our class on building a positive self-image and self-esteem your son asked me, "How many people have you killed?" I don't know if you should be alarmed or not because that, along with "when do we get to shoot the guns?", is a common question ask of me by your 14 and 15-year-old sons.

I also teach communication skills in my class, oral and written. In my first block class that begins at 8 AM I have 20 of your sons and daughters. On any given day, half of your children are absent. Two or three always walk in midway through the period claiming to have overslept. I gave them 3 weeks to prepare a 3 minute oral presentation. When the time came, only 2 of twenty actually did it. Many of those who chose to not do their work poked fun at the 2 who did. Your child was in one of those groups. The odds favor him or her being in the latter. I also ask them to write short paragraphs sometimes. Here's what your son turned in for a paragraph about Veteran's Day.

"veterans day
veterans day is the day we called Armistice day like The
4 of July but no firework and United States sidabt is
ever year and sidabt all the was we win SW WWI WW2 vkm
and we get to sidabt dis next year.
the end"

I realize that's an indictment of the education system, but mom and dad, don't you think you should have noticed by the time Johnny was in high school that he could barely read and write?

Your son walked into my class right after lunch with his entire butt sticking out from his over-sized and very expensive name-brand jeans? I suppose it was important for him to show us what brand of underwear he wore which also sported an expensive label. I had to let him use my textbook, "I didn't know we needed it today," he said. I also loaned him a pencil. A piece of paper he got from someone else. I recall thinking how much paper and how many pencils would equal the price of those jeans. Sitting sideways in his chair he tried to strike up a conversation with any student who would listen. I spent the remainder of the period telling him to be quiet while trying to teach something to those who wanted to learn. When the bell rang, his butt made its way back out of his jeans and he left my class the same way he entered it - no book, no pencil, no paper and no earthly idea what his purpose in school is. But, mom and dad, he's stylish and popular.

Your son was disrupting class by proudly showing off his "Drug Counseling" completion certificate when I took it from him. You'd have thought that I took away his badge of honor. He spent the rest of the class period writing that "JROTC sucks real bad" in his notebook instead of completing his work. Remember Grandma? When you called you refused to accept that your grandson was more infatuated with drugs than school.

That's another phenomena. I've discussed the progress of your children with several sets of grandparents. It appears you are allowing your mom and dad to continue raising the children.

Your boy told me he spent Halloween night in jail? He's 14, a freshman. He told me when the police brought him home from some Halloween night mischief making, mom was nowhere to be seen and you were drunk and without identification. He told me these things unsolicited. When a youngster does that, it's probably a cry for help. Teachers hear many of these cries. The problem is teachers are too few and Johnny's cries for help are just one demand of many for their attention. Your son's absences have already exceeded double digits. That's not a very good start to high school - or life. And isn't life what we are really speaking about here?

So how did you spend your day? Me? I watched your kids.

© 2000 J. D. Pendry