Year One


On Friday, January 23, there was a senior class meeting at 7:50 a.m. At this meeting, all 35-45 members of the senior class were handed copies of their transcripts and instructed to figure out what courses they were missing in order to graduate at the end of May.

Did they need to retake algebra 1? Biology? Did they need another history credit? I had a student come to me afterwards telling me he needed to retake algebra 1 and geometry, and wanted to know if I could help him review. For every course that they’re missing, they have to complete an APEX module for the class (basically an online version of the class), and pass it, by the time the semester ends.

PLOT TWIST: most of these kids don’t have Internet at home, so they have to stay after school and complete it there

OK – yes it’s great that we’re facilitating a time together to ensure that everyone can graduate on time. OK, but really guys, why did we wait until second semester senior year to let them know that they needed to retake that class they failed freshman year? Maybe we should like, do this at the end of every year, for every grade?

Year One


This post (and hopefully maybe the next few) are my attempt to communicate to you the real reasons why I’m here – the barriers my kids face in their academic journey that are wholly beyond their control. This is beyond the teenage pregnancies, the gangs, the absent parents, or other external factors.

I teach juniors Algebra I. My students and I are unable to figure out why, in the third year of high school, and some their fourth, they are taking Algebra I. I can’t find a satisfactory answer. I’ve been told it is because they, “didn’t take the EOC freshman year.” Every time I ask why the only consistent answer I receive is, “I don’t know.”

They ask me what math they’re supposed to be in right now. What math did I take my junior year? They ask me what happened, why they’re off their academic path, or if this will affect their futures. I don’t have answers.

I tell them I don’t know. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know how to fix it. I know this means that they’re behind. I know this isn’t how it’s supposed to work. And I know I will do my best to make sure it doesn’t hinder their opportunities in the future.