In college I majored in Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Before I was able to participate in any practicums with hearing impaired kiddos, I was required to do some work as a teacher's aide in a regular classroom. Not that there is such a thing as a regular classroom, but you know what I mean. I was placed in a second grade class with the most bitch-ass teacher ever. For the duration, we'll refer to her as BAT. Don't get me wrong, BAT was nice to me, but the woman was so over teaching that it didn't do the kids in her class a damn bit of good to have her there.
She only served as an example of what kind of teacher I did not want to be. My dream of teaching was never realized because I eventually dropped out of college after four and a half years for several reasons, not the least of which being utter despair with life. But, anyway...
The class was in the inner city, and many of the kids were underprivelaged, to say the least. There was a little girl whose name I have sadly forgotten, and I could smack myself because she most certainly deserves to be remembered. I'll call her Hope, because I pray she never lost that characteristic.
It's a funny thing when you are the new teacher, especially in the younger grades. The kids just love you, and, well, with the bitch they dealt with on a daily basis, I was not surprised to find them hovering around me, giving me hugs, and telling me they loved me. Seriously. The little rugrats rock like that.
On my second day, Hope came skipping up to the front of the class, and handed the prior evening's homework to me, beaming all the while. BAT snatched it out of my hands, scowled over the crumpled up notepad paper, tossed it aside, and said, "Hope's Mom is homeless. We don't expect a whole lot out of her."
I've never seen a more crestfallen little cherub face. It was all I could do not to cry or to scream out, "Oh my God, you FUCKING BITCH," as that wouldn't necessarily be conducive to me graduating and being a teacher very unlike her. But, for fuck's sake. I mean, there were some mistakes, but little Hope had done her homework, quite possibly on a FUCKING STREET CORNER, and rather than constructively correct her work, you TOSS IT TO THE SIDE, and insinuate that because she doesn't have a home, she's not even WORTH TEACHING!!!
That experience opened my eyes to what the educational experience is for many folks. In Hope's case, I'm sure as shit that this was a case of insidious racism. I can only wish with all my might that Hope encountered teachers in her later years that encouraged her obvious willingness to study.
On my last day of the practicum, BAT gave me a card. In it she wrote, "Good luck with the deaf-mutes!" Which, you know what? I'm not even gonna go there. Suffice it to say that deaf-mute became offensive, oh, maybe twenty or thirty years prior.