Updated: Dec 18, 2021
Catholic School General: I wrote this book in 2007. It was my first book.I had just finished teaching for a year in a black charter school in Philadelphia, grades four through 8. So I had a lot of experiences pulling ideas out of my head. Since then I have substituted for three years (kindergarten through 12th grade) in several inner-city charter schools. And since then, I have written three On the Hill books, with another on the way. Plus one book about Columbus's first voyage which was translated into Italian. And, I taught myself how to surf fish. Most people reading this probably never set foot in an inner-city school let alone faced a classroom of seventh grade black children. It's not for the meek and mild.Overall, however, my experience in the charter school was good. Catholic School General is a gritty tale about inner-city schools, poor neighborhoods, and dangerous streets — combined with a great fanasty story: A poor black kid, Jamil Jamil, uses telepathy with animals to stop a terrorist attack on Philadelphia. Really? Yes, and the terrorists try to steal the Liberty Bell. Below is an excerpt from the book, then some opinion comments, AND, a box for you to leave your comments. Please do.
Excerpt from the book Catholic School General:
At the top of the school steps, Dobo turned to his right and walked down the hall. He opened the door to room 209, and the kids erupted. They went crazy. Dobo smiled inside. He got respect, y'all.
"Yo, Do Bo, yo."
"Hey boy, hey, look who's here. Hey Dobo, my baby."
"Dobo, take me to the library," a girl asked, then slapped five with two other girls."
He doesn't shave, and he's already got a rep. Jamil just sat quietly in room 209. He tried to listen, but there wasn't much teaching or learning. Because in this school, the kids were in charge. Dobo may end up incarcerated someday. He might eventually shoot somebody. But for now, he'll just kill education. He may get arrested for dealing,or robbery, or assault. But he won't get arrested for killing education.
The teacher put them in group study. But they were sitting in small groups talking. Group study is the best, they say. "Hey, Mr. Yo," they said at the beginning of class. "Put us in group study, y'all."
He did so to keep the peace. He tried to teach those who wanted to learn, but in this class, if you wanted to learn, you ain't chillin.' And if you ain't chillin,' you're boot lickin.' They beat up the social studies teacher. The teacher before Mr. Yo. That's what they call all of the teachers, Mr. Yo. A girl smacked him in the face. He tumbled backward in the podium and went down. That's when Samir kicked him so hard the whole class heard his ribs crack.
"Yeah, all right," Samir yelled. They were throwing stuff an the teacher, squirming on the floor in pain. Someone hit him in the head with a dictionary, and the kids erupted in laughter. "Spell them mother fuckin' words, white bread," a fifteen year old female student — a child — yelled. Another kid hit him with a desk. Jamil and a few of the other kids moved to the back of the room. A teacher walking by saw the commotion and pulled the security alarm, or they might have beaten him worse. One girl said he was asking for it.
The teacher walked out of the school and into an emergency vehicle. He never went back to a school again. Any school.
We Don't Need Gun Control - We Need School Control
If you think the above example is rare or trumped-up, you don't read the city papers, nor have you ever been in an inner-city school. If you teach in an inner-city public school, you walk a fine line between having control or not having control. Staff shortages from the pandemic have made matters worse. At Jay Cooke Elementary School — in Northeast Philadelphia — nearly half of the faculty left last summer after just two years at the school. Turnover, like at Cooke, is huge in the inner-city schools.
And so is student truncy in the upper grades. In Philadelphia, the percentage rate for dropout students is through the roof. But that's even if they attend in the first place. Many students enter the building, check in, and then sneak out the back door. Those who quit by the tenth or eleventh grade leave the inner-city schools reading and doing math at a third or fourth-grade level.
Philadelphia is at the 500-plus murder rate for 2021, and the liberals and politicians crying for gun control. Gun control? They need to look more closely at school control. School control — where all students learn; school control — where students like Dobo don't kill education; and school control — where teachers can teach without being afraid.
And school control — where the teachers run the schools, not the students.
It's not just in the schools. The the truent students run the streets, too. They roam the streets in small packs picking on people to beat up. A group of black female students recently attacked a small group of Asian students on a subway platform. It seems the black kids love to pick on the asian kids, who, unlike the black students, attend school to learn.
And the murders. Night after night, they don't stop. Kids shooting kids. And it's the same result: "We need more gun control."
NO, we already have gun control, with huge penalties for carrying unlicensed weapons. These well-intended people think that if a huge magnet could somehow suck all the guns up from the thugs and drug dealers — many of them kids — then everything would be okay.
Here's a better idea: How about school control — making school equal to or better than the Lower Merion schools, where:
All students attend school every day throughout the year
Teachers teach and run the schools, not students
Disruptive students are separated out quickly and taught another way (so they don't kill education, like Dobo), thus allowing teachers to teach unafraid
Teachers are paid competitive salaries, and, are given the support they need to actually teach the students
And all students graduate reading and doing math at grade levels
No, I'm not dreaming. When the politicians stop bickering and backstabbing over everything — Democrats and Republicans alike — and improve the schools, then, and only then, will the beatings and murder rates go down. School control — not gun control.
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