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2004-10-20 - 9:13 p.m.

A former student came to see me today and mentioned that next year, after he graduates, he's joining the army. I understand why - there's no money for college and he wants to get ahead. But what if he gets ground up in George W. Bush's war? My students exactly fit the profile of the typical kids who end up doing the fighting for the rest of us (or for the oil companies, however you look at it). What could I say to him? I want him to be successful and to grab whatever opportunity he gets, but I don't want to hear that he was casualty 2000 in Iraq.

Today we talked about citizenship and college and being president. Several of my kids are not citizens. They asked me all kinds of questions about what you can and cannot do if you aren't a citizen. It was interesting for me because I hadn't realized just how many of them were here with green cards. One girl is getting ready to leave (her family is military and her dad is being posted elsewhere) and she was concerned about her access to college.

This past weekend I was exploring some newsgroups - it was a bad experience. I hadn't run across such raw hatred, ignorance, and vitriol in a long time. I feel so lucky to live in San Antonio, I really do - despite its problems (segregated neighborhoods/schools, low-wage city, etc.), I think we are better off than a lot of places when it comes to racism. I read some posts by some folks in California and other places that made me feel sick. How anyone can be so pig ignorant about other cultures just amazes me.

When I encounter racist garbage like that I think about some of the stories Vero has told me about negative things that have happened in her life. And I think about how idiots like the people on the newsgroup would completely write Vero and her family off because of their ethnicity, little dreaming how much they, a family of immigrants, have contributed to this country. Her parents were ranchers with very little formal education. They moved to Texas to raise their children, all of whom went to college and entered various professions (teaching, computers, medicine). And judging from some of my students, this is a fairly typical pattern for new immigrant families. The parents are very motivated for their children to have better lives. Otherwise, why would they have uprooted their families and moved to a new country?

And, on a related topic, why are people so threatened by other people speaking Spanish? People have been speaking Spanish in Texas and other parts of the US for longer than they have been speaking English. Most of my students are bilingual (primarily English/Spanish) and I always tell them it will stand them in good stead.

Anyway, today was an OK day. A little stressful. I agreed to do a "model teach" Friday during my off period. That's when you go in and present a lesson to a group while their teacher watches. It's going to be a writing lesson. I haven't decided yet what I want to do. Many of the teachers at my school (hell, in my district) don't believe the kids can learn to write well so they bury them in grammar and punctuation lessons; the kids never get to go beyond the baby steps. I have found with writing that, after you achieve a certain skill level, (ie. basic sentences) you just jump in and learn as you go.

I neglected the doggies today. I fed them and talked to them, but I just wasn't up to throwing the soggy, drooly tennis ball for them. I'll have to make it up to them tomorrow.

Paulson and I are still working on our presentation/workshop. I'm sort of excited, but also I suppose a little stressed. Sometimes I wonder what's wrong with me. I could get by without doing all of this extra stuff and the nihilist in me says it's all pointless anyway ... but I do it anyway. In some respects I do the extra stuff cause it's fun, I like working without a net, and I like being the center of attention. Plus, I do think we have to do good here on earth. A fancy sentiment for a professed atheist, I know. But Vero and I were talking about this tonight. There's a guy at her work, a former teacher of 20 years, who has the attitude that he "did his part" and now he can just look out for number 1. Whereas we both think there is no such thing as having done your part - it never ends. If you are in the position where you can give back, make life better for others, even in a small way, then that's what you do.

All high and mighty,



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