Updated: May 13, 2021
It's been about 7 years since I sat in a room with my daughters teacher, Vice Principal, and Dean of Students, pleading that she be given a fair opportunity to learn. After the closing of fifty schools in 2013 by former Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Noble Charter Schools provided the best and safest option of schools for our daughter to attend. The foundation of the charter schools seemed to be created on the premise of discipline. Our daughter had graduated from a Noble Junior High School, so we were familiar with the theory of discipline that the schools were modeled after. It was different than the schools that myself and my ex-wife had come from, but both us, and our daughters biological father all felt it could be good for her. I began having to make regular visits to the school when our daughter was in 7th grade. With me working closer than her mom, and her dad being unavailable at the time, I'd often be the designated dad on call to go and pick her up. Because the school focused so heavily on discipline, I'd be there for things that I thought should have been resolved without us having to be called, but nevertheless when they called I came!
Prior to our daughter becoming a high school student, my schedule became less flexible, meaning I would not have time to come up to her school as I had been. She had been showing more maturity over the summer leading up to her freshman year, and had dedicated herself to doing better so we trusted that she would.
Shortly after starting high school, it looked as if it would be more of the same, with the school calling about her behavior, and her denying any wrong doing. This time was different I noticed, her home behavior had been much better, she was up and prepared to leave on time everyday, as well as her attitude about school was much more positive. It didn't make much sense that once she'd gotten to school all that would change. My ex-wife and I began hearing her when she told us why she had been in trouble, and with whom. After paying closer attention it seemed that all the trouble had been happening in one class. When a kid tells you a teacher doesn't like them, you tend to pass it off as an excuse for the kid not doing what they're supposed to, but turned out she wasn't lying.
After my ex wife began making regular visits to the school, becoming more agitated with each visit, I decided that I wanted to speak with the teacher that was having the issue with our daughter. When I walked through the halls of the school, I noticed that they're wasn't many Black teachers teaching in the classrooms despite the school being about 30% Black, and probably 50% Latino. Just about all the teachers were young White Women. I figured out immediately what the problem possibly was, and the theory behind the focus of discipline, it was to protect this new breed of teachers. For many of those teachers, it was their first time teaching and dealing with kids with such diverse upbringings. When our daughter didn't cooperate as quickly, or expressed herself in a way that didn't resonate to what the teacher was used to, she took it as a challenge. Once I got the opportunity to listen to the complaints of the teacher, I took the opportunity to educate her a young whit female, the Vice Principle and Dean as well of whom were both Black Men!
I began by letting them know that I was not a parent who was in denial of who their child was, and what she was capable of. I was well aware of her moods, the smartness of her mouth, and her attitude when she doesn't agree with what she is being told. With all that said, I knew that as smart as her mouth could be, it also reflected how smart she was. She can be engaged, attentive, and had much to offer if approached in the correct way. Like many of the teenagers at the school they don't trust you I told them, not solely because of race, but because you are not one of them. She, like most of them need to know that you care for them genuinely. They have to feel the love before they trust you and allow you to lead them. The reason I understood that about my daughter and the other kids is because I was one of them. We had to be taught from a position of love or it would never work. We wouldn't have attended a disciplinary focused school, and many kids have opted out, then and now. We had some of the best teachers in the Chicago Public Schools, not all saw us for who we were, some just came for the check and they struggled. The teachers that showed that they genuinely cared were able to get the toughest kids respect. I'm happy to say that after having an honest conversation with the teacher, her and my daughter didn't have any more serious problems, they actually became each others favorites. Our daughter is in her last year of college, being as amazing as we always saw her to be!