As the weeks passed, the numbness of habit began to overtake me…sunrise over the dark city, the hum of the my tires down the highway, the blanket of filthy air exhaled by the smokestacks…the potholes jostling me into occasional alertness…I began, once again, my drivetime audiobook adventures, which even further removed me from the apocalyptic surroundings I daily inhabited.
Gary, IN is the perfect example of the whiteman’s wasteland, a used up, drugged up prostitute whose destiny is manifest. The place is 99.9% malignant. And I say that in the most matter-of-fact manner possible, the way a doctor presents the final prognosis to a dying man.
The inner city charter school is like a giant leach, siphoning off a portion of the bad, infected blood so that the healthy parts of its host will stand a fighting chance. The problem is that there is just so damn much bad blood, and so little healthy parts remaining. And there are multiple infections being fought at once…rap culture, gang culture, poverty, ignorance, futility, hopelessness, little food, no food, no healthy food. Fruits and vegetables, our best foods and our best metaphors, are exotic luxuries in such a wasted city, where approximately 4 promising students per class might make it out. This means that only about 20/130 students will be able to shake themselves free of the prostitute’s clutches and benefit from the leach therapy. These 4 promising students would be considered average at a middle class white school. It was for these few students, these lights in the darkness, that I worked daily. Slowly, I and they began to ripen on the vine, even in these formidable circumstances.
Since the charter school where I worked gave 50% credit for doing absolutely nothing (so they could spin the numbers, thus keeping up enrollment and federal tax dollars), I set up a system where I gave 150% to students who wanted to go over and above. The administration did not like this approach because it messed with their delicate web of numeric lies. The administration did not like many, many of my observations and practices. Ultimately we both will decide to “move in different directions”. The school is receiving a glut of applications from teachers left high and dry by their own charter school, a spider which had failed in its attempt to spin the proper numerical lies for the state. Ultimately, the charter school where I have spent 9 months will see the same fate, and the cycle will repeat itself. The charter school needs people who need it, in terms of both students and teachers. The fact that this position was optional to me allowed me to implement and voice critical thinking skills, which posed a very real threat to the current establishment there.
For 9 months I stared at the open wounds left by the receding flood of capitalism. For 9 months, I was in the belly of the beast. This wasteland is the logical conclusion of economic materialism, which is the logical conclusion of philosophical materialism, which is the logical conclusion of one path taken in this garden of forking paths…separation from our ultimate source. Thus say the gospel of technological determinism.
I have not yet said much about those lights in the darkness, my students. I have only been setting the stage. My next several posts will be dedicated to them, those healthy individuals who may be able to free themselves of the whore’s clutches, who may be able to reach heaven because they know what it is like to live in hell.