Gunfight at the Furniture Store

Gunfight: Store Owner Fights Back

It was the Monday morning after Easter Sunday. I had the local TV news on to catch the weather report. I was rolling around on the living room floor doing stretches before heading out for my before-school cardio when I heard the news. “In our top story, Store Owner Fights Back. Yesterday, a gunfight erupted when three men attempted to rob a furniture store at gunpoint. The owner pulled his own gun, and foiled the attempted armed robbery, killing the gunman and wounding another.”

Wow! I thought, ‘What kind of fools decide to rob a furniture store? And on Easter Sunday!’ Unfortunately, I found out. The fools were from my school!

Now don’t judge my kids too harshly. Some of them were really great kids who just had to make up credits. I’m still in touch with some of them who are now adults and I consider them my adopted children.

But, some of my kids were fools on their way to the penitentiary or the cemetery. This is one of their stories.

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Gangstas Have Cars

Gangstas Have Cars. It’s a Warning.

I’ve noticed something unexpected when I promote my writing. My intended audience is kids, parents, teachers, and politicians, pretty much anyone with an interest or a stake in education. What surprises me is that some of them dismiss my book or blog by saying, “Oh we’re just not interested in that gangster stuff. It doesn’t apply to us.” To which I reply, “I think you should be interested in that gangster stuff because gangstas have cars.” Here’s some reasons and then, if you’re still not convinced, a very scary story.

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How I Got Gangsta’ Street Credit Without Getting Shot

7.8.14 Credit Cards & Benjamins iStock_000016074423_SmallGangsta’s

I taught the most hated and feared course in the curriculum to the most hated and feared students in the district.  For twenty years, I taught Algebra at a CDS school.  Community Day Schools (CDS) are ‘last chance’ alternative schools.  We’d get the most troubled, the most violent, the most at risk, the most hard headed, the unluckiest (personal problems or behind in credits), and the saddest (as well as the sweetest) teenage students you could possibly imagine.  My novella What Happened to David describes in greater detail the challenges these students face, but for right now just accept that I regularly had some very difficult clients.

Now on the particular day I’m talking about here, my class was made up of all boys and equally divided between hard core gangsters and wanna be gangstas.  I run a tight, goal oriented, mathematics classroom but even the best classroom manager will tell you that some days, you just have to go with the flow.  Today the flow was going toward a contest of who had survived the most impressive wounds – usually from gunshots or stabbings.

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The Gun in My Classroom

6.27.14 Gun iStock_000016146459_SmallI see a gun!

‘It’s really there!  A pistol in his left hand.  He’s showing it to the girl sitting next to him.  Be cool!  I don’t think he realizes I can see what he’s doing.  Stay cool and think fast and figure out what to do next.’

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