Sunday, October 11, 2009

Friday Night Lights ... Diversity vs Monoculture

Friday night, we travelled north and then west past Tallahassee to the little town of Quincy in Gadsden county.
That's a pretty long ride ... about 3 or 4 times through Jimmy Buffett's Beaches CD from the Boats, Bars, Beaches, Ballads set. Fueled by a large, and very good McDonald's coffee, I sang along over and over again driving home with a sleeping wife and lad in the truck. We arrived home around 2:00 am Saturday.

It was homecoming for the private school that we competed against. That tells you something about our little football team's record ... we are the school other schools invite to homecoming.
I think we only fielded about 20 players for this game. The boys work really hard each game, but almost always we are up against larger squads and bigger boys.

This was a more equal match as far as the appearance of both teams. They had only a few more boys on their squad and although they had more tall kids ... they were kind of spindly.

Before we get to the rest of this post, which is mostly me pridefully showing you pics of my boy, let me make an observation.

Gadsden county is the only county in Florida where the majority of the citizens are black Americans.
Yet ...
As far as I could tell from looking at both the private school website and their football team, cheerleaders, and fans ... they were completely, glowingly, lily white.

You might think a veteran public school teacher like me would not be pro-private school, but that would an incorrect assumption. Just the opposite ... except when I see something like this.

In general, every good private school helps me and my students by lowering our class sizes. Good private schools also exert some competitive pressure on public schools to teach well and keep improving.

In our county, the private schools are mostly church run and fundamentalist. You can imagine that some of their science ideas and mine might diverge, but that's fine with me.

What bothers me most about our local private schools, is that the school day consists of working through a workbook with the "teacher" sort of "on call". If you have a question, she comes over to your cubicle and assists you. I suppose that is technically teaching, but it's not my definition of the art.
Like the school in Gadsden county, they are also essentially white monocultures with unusual (to me) rules and ideas. One example: A mother I know was investigating one of these schools for her son who happens to have long hair. The school master pointed out that her son would have to cut his hair to attend, because after all, " ... long hair on boys was associated with homosexuality."

Oh my.

She pointed out the picture of a long haired Jesus on the wall and left, never to return.

I think she is homeschooling her child now. More power to her. I have no quarrel with that either if the parent is capable of teaching. To assume that all are capable is to live in a fantasy land, because it takes a lot of work and time to do it right. I know some home school parents who do superior jobs and others who home school an older sibling so the parent can go to work and have a free babysitter.

Wandered a bit didn't I?
I think I just started out making the point that the school we played was as white as a Least Tern's ass in a county where the demographics are more the color of a Fish Crow's butt.

And then there is our team ...
Our team ... wooo boy ... we are a spicy calalou of white Americans, black Americans, hispanic Americans, and some fascinating mixes of each. We are a mix of economic classes too. My son is in class with kids above and below his economic level with about as much of a melanin mix as is possible.
He has a solid set of values and recognizes that some of his classmates do not. Interestingly, those classmates who are lacking in what most of us lump together as morals, respect, and basic decency have not dragged him down by proximity in a mixed classroom.
In fact, I would say they have made him stronger and more prepared for the world he steps out into when he graduates this year.

Is this a football post or some kind of essay about education in America?
Wasn't I supposed to be Dadly bragging on my boy?

Here we go ...

First, we won for a change. Woohoo!!! 31 to 12.

Here's Junior breaking away after catching a long pass. Number 12 caught up with him just before the goal and forced him out with a face mask grab.
He did apologize right away though, and even Junior agreed it was not intentional. I will give this private school points for good sportsmanship.
THAT is an area that some of OUR players could work on.

A little Junior blocking action that luckily happened right in front of me. The little flash on the Sony has trouble reaching waaaaaay out there when the action happens down field.

Junior kicking for extra points.

He doesn't miss these things, and they usually go far beyond the fence.

Standing on the sideline with my camera, the chain crew was next to me, both of them parents from the private school team.

"Now THAT is how to kick a football! Our guy needs to watch this guy" exclaimed one of the chain guys.

"That's my boy." I replied.

Man, that felt good.


elpbulls said...

YAY Raymie!! Go Bronson! Love you! (liked your rant as a future teacher :) )

Deb said...

Congrats to Junior on his fine footballmanship!

And, good "almost" rant. There are good reasons to go the private or homeschooling option, but insulating kids from the variety of humanity that exists out there is not one of them.

cndymkr / jean said...

Go Junior! And congrats to you and your wife for raising such a good kid.

Pablo said...

Outstanding post, FC!

You have an excellent son, and he has an excellent father.

(Keep making posts like this and I may start visiting your blog more than a half dozen times a day!)

Caroline said...

It is the ART of teaching, absolutely!
Hurray for one in the win column.

ChrisC and JonJ said...

Ya gotta love high school football in Florida!!Man I miss those days when our 2 played.Best of times!

Miz S said...

elpbulls is your Emma, right? And she's studying to be a teacher? Aw. I feel all warm and fuzzy. I'm fond of your family, dear FC.

And I love to hear you ALMOST ranting there, buddy boy.

TROLL Y2K said...

"Spicy calalou"? Dude!

LibraryGirl62 said...

I am in Naples~my oldest goes to a high school considered 'low-performing', she is one of the 204/1219 white kids at her school(and I have to mention top 10 in her class:-she creates her own rigor and is a leader). My son goes to a very small private high school-he is on financial aid and while he is in the racial majority, he is in the financial minority. It is not religious and he does not go there for that reason. It is very academically rigorous-his needs were not being met in public school and he does not create his own rigor-quite the opposite :) I teach at an elem school where 96% of the kids are econ. needy and more than 80% are non-English speaking. SO my tirade is that what makes us us is the diversity we encounter. Listening to only one side of a story or history is short sighted. Walling yourself off is dangerous-it makes you fearful and unsure of yourself. Taking the best of another culture and making it part of you makes you stronger, not weaker!
Oh and congrats JR! We lost-again-but my son's baseball team won so we are ok!

Marge said...

I have that boxed set - great collection, except I don't think it has the Bear song (God's Own Drunk). marge

Doug Taron said...

Most excellent rant. Congrats to Jr. and the team on the win.

Kathy said...

Good post. I homeschool my kids and have for 6 years now. My oldest went to the local middle school this year to play football. The reason we kept them out in the first place was the terrible education our Alabama county seems to provide. And we're 9 weeks into it, he's asserting very little effort, getting 100's in everything, and learning nothing. Is it because I did such a wonderful job? I highly doubt it. He is my least motivated one of the three. But, that's Alabama for you. Maybe our house will sell soon and we can move to a better district. All of mine are social butterflies and keeping them home didn't hurt them one bit. We go to church with some folks doing it for all the wrong reasons, though.

On the other hand, he's loving football and got our only TD this week! Got to take the good with the bad, right?

Dani said...

Woohoo Jr.!!!

You both have raised such wonderful kids! A beautiful thing that is.

robin andrea said...

My nephew's step-daughter is being home-schooled this year by her mother who is a mindless halfwit of a person. I feel so bad for the step-daughter who is bright, engaged, and talented. Shouldn't there be some standard that a home schooling "teacher" has to meet? A criteria of some sort? Maybe there is, but it's not very challenging or something.

Oh anyway, I didn't mean to go on my own little rant here. Just glad to read yours. And big congrats to Jr and his triumphant team! Yeah!

kathy a. said...

go, junior!

good rant. we put our kids in a diverse, academic private school. when my son was to begin kindergarten, our school district was in bankruptcy. i visited a kindergarten class; there were 35 students, and the teacher spent the entire morning trying to impose order. it was awful.

we tried the public high school, which was great for some kids we know and we also know some good teachers there. it did not work out for my son. he was small and was bullied; he was not placed in the gifted classes he needed; he started crashing and burning. the last term, he missed about 35 classes; not only did the school fail to call us [they are supposed to call each time], but i could not even get 2 of his teachers to meet me or return my phone calls when his progress reports showed some trouble. when i met with one teacher, she had some trouble figuring out who my son was; then she said, "oh, you're here about the teasing." and i said, "what teasing? i have not heard of any teasing. i'm here about the D."

sorry for rambling on. that experience is one of the reasons i so enjoy reading about your students and your teaching. it just makes a world of difference when a teacher cares.

i think the world of public school teachers, and support public education. it seems to me that our HS was burdened at that time with a terrible administration, a few bad teachers, and real challenges for the good teachers -- kind of the usual: overcrowding, budget cuts, few support services, a very diverse student body with a wide range of needs, etc.

kathy a. said...

that last paragraph belongs before the second-last.

Floridacracker said...

Love you!

I think insulation is a really bad idea too.

Thanks! So far so good.

Thanks! Not much nature in it tho. Perhaps in the next post.

Definitely art. Oh yeah ...

It is pretty sweet. Basketball after this too!

Miz S,
She is determined despite my advice!
LOL! She will make a great one. Thank you for the kindness.

From a great song by Jimmy Buffet.
Dude! LOL

I agree. Walling is not doing the kids a favor. Thank you for the good input!

That classic is on "Before The Salt".


That may be the toughest thing in the modern classroom of poor readers and low motivation ... how do we simultaneously challenge the ones who are ahead of the crowd.

Thanks! Neither they nor their parents are anywhere near perfect though. I don't brag on the goof ups! LOL!

I don't know about homeschool standards. Makes me wonder too. I'm sure it varies from state to state.

Kathy A,
As a parent, all of your reasons for private education in that situation make perfect sense to me.
Good decision!

Cathy S. said...

I'm all for finding the best fit for the child, home school, charter school, private school, public school, what is best for the child and fits their learning needs? That said, I thought to myself, surely FC exaggerates. What kind of a parent would keep their kid at home so that they can baby-sit? Then, today opened up our local newspaper to see a story about some "home school" parents who pulled their high school age daughter out of school so she could keep her younger sister, age two during the day while her parents worked! What kind of a nut does that! I thought that child labor during school hours had been outlawed! To top it off, they were upset with the school board for not letting their daughter attend a high school dance. (Extracurricular activities are open to homeschoolers, but not social events). They said the school board was depriving her of being able to mix socially with her peers. No, dear parent, you are the one doing the depriving. What is our world coming to?

amarkonmywall said...

What a GREAT post, FC. On all fronts. When you almost start a rant, you read like someone who could almost write a book...

The kick video is the icing on the cake. Buttercream.

Floridacracker said...

Cathy S,
What really makes that story so bizarre is that the "mom" in question was a public school teacher!
Alas, no exaggeration needed!

Thank you! I like that kick too!