Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Adult Education

Not everyone wants to graduate.

Hall and Oates even wrote a song about it.

A few would stay in high school forever, floating in the decision free womb of teenage adolescence for all eternity. The closer they get to graduating, the less work they do, all in the hopes of putting off the real world for just one more year.

In the world of Logan's Run, when you turn 30 you have to turn yourself in for "reincarnation." They call the ceremony carousel.

In the world of high school, you are exiled when you are 19 - but instead of "reincarnation" - you go to adult school.

In California, only special education students get a reprieve, they can stay in the public school system until they are 22.

John is one of my more bizarre students. He's got issues, and his issues have got issues, which causes me to have an issue with all of his issues. With John its just one big issue of Psychology weekly.

John has an alarming tendency to creep people out, especially his teachers. Most of the students just ignore him when he randomly pulls out ham and cheese sandwiches and starts eating them in class, or opens his mouth to gargle during a lecture.

When John believes he is being persecuted, and will run to my door to complain about his teachers.

"Teachers are bugging me. They bug."

"What happened?" I ask.

"They won't leave me alone in class. They are always asking me to do stuff."


"Stuff! They won't leave me alone."

"I'll talk to them."

"Thanks Leiken!"

Later I'll find out John is being "persecuted" because he refuses to pull out a paper and pencil, puts his head down and goes to sleep, or has ditched class twice a week for the past month. After I resolve what is happening, I'll talk to John a second time, whereupon he'll apologize and promise to behave.

We've gone through this routine every couple of months for the past 4 years.

This year he was on track to graduate, when suddenly he developed a severe case of "senioritis", starting back in September of 2008. John was suddenly incapable of completing assignments, finishing homework, answering tests, working in groups, writing papers, or completing anything else that remotely resembled school work.

Part of this is my fault. I told him he could come back for a 5th year if he needed to make up a few credits. I should have stressed this didn't mean he could take the entire year off.

Yesterday he showed up in my room during 4th block, probably ditching class to finish up work with me i.e: Leiken will give me the answers.

This is as good a time as any. "John," I begin, "we need to discuss your exit IEP."

"Yeah, my counselor told me I need only 5 more credits and I can come back next year to make them up."

I took at his transcript. He has to make up 3 classes, plus the 4 he is currently failing now, including English 11 which he is taking for the 3rd time. "John, you need to make up more then 5 credits. You've taken English 11 three times now."

"Yeah, but that's a good thing." he pauses, "each time I take it I learn more."

"You need to finish up in adult school."

John shakes his head. "I can stay here until I'm 22."

"You want to be here until you're 22?" I gape. "You want teachers to order you around when you are a grown man?"

"It's better then the real world."

"You aren't staying here until you are 22. You can finish up in adult school."

But John is adamant, determined to stay. The conversation does not end so much as peter out, I can't convince him to leave, and I don't have the power to make him leave. If a student in special ed wants to stay, they can stay until they are 22 until they graduate.

Most of the time they stay one more year, then drop out - there is no point to coming when all their friends are gone.

The problem here is that John doesn't really have friends. He'll stay to the bitter end.

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