In which I don’t have it tonight

This thing with Makyi is still weighing heavily on my head and my heart, to the point where I’m starting to wonder what the best route to getting the felony murder statute overturned in Indiana would be. I have enough mental energy to fuck around with video games on Youtube but not enough to blog coherently. So I’m taking the night off, and I’ll be back tomorrow.

On hope

The “South Bend man” referred to in this headline is a former student. He was a bright, inquisitive, funny and honest student when I had him in 6th and again in 7th grade; his older brother was one of my DC kids and was a member of my single favorite class of students I’ve ever had. There are still pictures of both of them on my phone.

He was just sentenced to 45 years in jail because he and a high school student planned to steal another man’s gun and then beat him up. The “plan”– and I strongly suspect I do not have anything even close to the full story– went badly sideways for them, and the man killed the high school student and shot Makyi “at least” eight times. Somehow, another person’s decision to kill a child and attempt to kill a second person rather than be robbed of a gun has led to the person who was shot being convicted of murder and sentenced to jail for 45 years, more than twice as long as he has been alive.

I am not interested in you attempting to justify the existence of “felony murder” charges, and I can guarantee you that attempting to do so will be the last thing you ever say around here. I don’t care if you think this is okay or justified. You can keep that shit to yourself. I loved this kid. He was smart. He had a chance. He should be in fucking college right now. And instead he’s 20 years old and somehow has been convicted of a murder that everyone involved in his sentencing knows that he absolutely did not commit in an incident that led to he, himself, being shot eight + times, and will be in jail until he’s 65.

I hate it here.

Well, great, nice to see you too

I brought my dad Arby’s for lunch today, and while I was in the drive-thru the kid at the window checked my debit card and then announced that I had been her math teacher. I didn’t recognize her, both because it had legitimately been years since I’d seen her and, well, the mask— but she threw me for a loop with what she said next.

“Yeah, you hated me.”

She’d told me her name already, but I hadn’t been able to properly process it, and frankly in the moment I didn’t remember a damn thing about her– which actually means that there’s no chance that I actually did hate her, as I assure you I have forgotten none of those kids, and in fact they haunt my dreams still. And, honestly, it really bothers me that that was the first thing she thought to say to me– because regardless of whether I did hate her or not, her perception that I did is more than bad enough.

It’s several hours later now, and I’ve managed to put together who she is. And I didn’t hate her, but I suppose I can understand why she thought I did in the moment. She is, in fact, the cousin of one of the perhaps three students who I might use the word “hate” to describe my feelings about. And I don’t remember her being a big problem on her own, but her cousin (the “I got a baby by his brother” girl in this post, in fact) was an utter Goddamned nightmare and the cousin dragged this girl into her shit a lot. So she was around a fair amount for Angry Me, particularly since the two of them sat together on the bus a lot and the bus driver actually did hate both of them, to the degree where she put it in a referral once.

(These kids will never know how much time and energy I spent defending the two of them against this bus driver, by the way, at one point going over the driver’s head to central office about the way she treated them, but that’s a whole other story that I’m not telling right now.)

Anyway. I’m more or less over it by now, since I’ve managed to put together who she was, but the whole conversation had me fucked up all afternoon.

Just curious: how many of you had a teacher who you thought hated you at the time? Any that you thought hated you when you were in class with them but don’t think that any longer?

On what passes for good news nowadays

Is this good news? Hell, I don’t know.

We’ve been working on systems of equations in class lately. So, just as a reminder, if I tell you that y = 2x and y = x + 2, you can use those two equations to solve for both X and Y to find out that X is 2 and Y is 4. The process isn’t that important if you don’t remember it. There are three ways my eighth graders are supposed to learn how to do this– graphing, substitution, and elimination, and we’re working on substitution right now and have already covered graphing. I’m going to cover elimination later this week and I’m hellbent on knocking it out in two days because, frankly, it’s just not that damn important by any measure I’m concerned with.

But good news! Today’s assignment is out of 10, with a two-point bonus question that I thought was going to be quite a bit harder, so it’s possible to get up to 10/12 on it. And right now, with twelve minutes of class left in my final period of the day– yes, I’m blogging during school; the kids aren’t talking and if they start I’ll quit doing this– the median score is 12/10 and the average is 10.48, so the average score is actually into the realm of extra credit.

Sounds great, right?

I have 143 students and have only been able to mark 52 present today. But, hey, that’s still a pretty solid average out of the 52 who showed up and did the work!

…Oh, you say only 25 did the assignment? Ah. That’s … well, that’s seventeen and a half percent of my students.

That’s, uh, not as good.

But hey! Out of the third of my kids who bothered to show up to class today, the half who did the assignment did really well!

…except it’s not like the graphing method doesn’t work perfectly well with what are supposed to be substitution equations, and there are websites that they can use that will graph lines for them. I know they know they exist because I’ve used them in class. And that probably explains the bonus question, too … and these two kids in different classes who got this system wrong in the exact same way, which only works if you forget a negative sign on one of the numbers and then graph that

So I really have no evidence of any kind that any but the tiniest handful of my kids who have worked through stuff with their cameras and microphones on have any understanding of how to do this.

But hey! Those three kids! They’ve got it!

I take my wins where I can find them nowadays, I guess.

On yard signs

I had to do some running around tonight– I had my final LASIK follow-up appointment, and stopped by my dad’s to mutilate him give him a haircut, and I have some thoughts. Now, these should not be taken especially seriously, and I want to emphasize that they are based on a snapshot of maybe 10-15 miles of driving on a small number of streets in the Democratic part of Indiana. Take this all with a substantial amount of salt.

Nonetheless!

  • In general, there are fewer yard signs out than I would normally expect this close to the election.
  • Most of the signs that are out are for local or statewide races. There are a lot of school board signs, and more than I’d expect for the coroner’s race.
  • There are a handful of yards on this drive that can be reliably counted upon to have a sign for everyone running in whatever political party the house belongs to. Interestingly, while the Democratic houses all have Biden signs, the Republican houses do not have signs for the other guy. Houses with signs for him tend to have only a sign for him.
  • If you have this in front of your house I’m going to assume you’re a crazy person:

I assume that the stake is because of vampires. Like, seriously, people, the man is an atheist and he hates you.

  • I only saw one yard with that sign but it’s uncomfortably close to my house.
  • There is no gubernatorial race. Not one sign for Holcomb, even in the “we have signs for everyone” yards, and none on their own, and not one sign for his opponent anywhere.
  • There are also a couple of houses that reliably have large signs for Jackie Walorski– like, the size that require 4×4 posts driven into the ground– and those houses do not have signs up for That Guy either.

Again, draw no conclusions from this and I make no predictions. I’m mostly writing this now so that I remember to compare it to what that same drive looks like on, say, the 30th.


Many moons ago, I had a kid in my class named, oh, let’s call him Lafayette, for the usual “it amuses me for reasons I won’t reveal” rationale. Lafayette transferred into my room in December, and on his first day took a seat as far away from everyone as he could get and didn’t make a sound. He got called down to the office after about an hour and didn’t come back. When I inquired about it later, I was told that he’d been expelled from his previous school for threatening to murder his teacher, and that we were honoring the suspension. He’d be back in January.

For the record, while he wasn’t a great student by any stretch of the imagination, I had no real discipline problems with Lafayette. He was, on his worst day, squarely in the middle of that group in terms of his behavior.

The year after I had him, a photo of him went Facebook viral, as his mother forced him to stand on a street corner for several hours carrying a sign announcing to everyone who drove by that he was failing all of his classes and was generally not a good person. I can’t find the picture now, but it still resurfaces every now and again.

Several years later, at 16, he was arrested for attacking an elderly woman, beating her unconscious, and stealing her car. He’s in state prison now; the soonest he has any chance of getting out is 2027. I assume he was tried as an adult.

His younger brother, who wasn’t ever in my class but who I met at least once, is currently the subject of a manhunt for murder. They haven’t caught him yet, but his face is all over the place.