More on Socks and something sad about Giraffes

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Like most people I know, I have fantasized about what I would do with a million dollars.  My most common response is that (after paying off all debts and taking a fun trip or two)  I would go out every two weeks and buy 14 pair of socks for everyone in the house and Never Wash Socks Again.

Done with your socks, Maxx?  Put them in the trash.

ahhhh.  What bliss that would be.

Turns out, that is what a lot of my husband's students do.   But they aren't millionaires.  They are on welfare.

I don't know whether it is a problem with laziness or if they don't have access to a washing machine or if they just need to spend that stipend every month and nothing is perceived as valuable enough to care for but some of them just don't do laundry.  Ever.

They wear new clothes until they get a stain or start to be too smelly and then throw them away.

The school districts in the area didn't use up all of their snow days this year so each district scheduled several "give back" days around Spring Break and Easter Weekend this year.  Because they don't coordinate those give back days through the BOCES calendar, Bry had several days last week where only one or two students were in his class.  That makes it hard to cover new curriculum so he decided to show an anthro film about Kalahari bushmen.   His has been dragging his students through A Green History of the World this year (man - I miss homeschool) and they have been reading about the demise of aboriginal hunter-gatherer cultures in the face of industrialization and globalization.  The film showed a group of bushmen hunting a giraffe.

One of his students watched with fascination for a while and then said
"Is that a giraffe?  Is it a real giraffe?"  And a conversation about giraffes ensued.  The student was awed and excited and really engaged.

She thought giraffes were imaginary creatures.  She had never been to a zoo.  She had never even watched Kratt's Kreatures or any other nature program that might have taught her something about Africa's mega fauna. 

Seriously.

She's one of his brighter students - not handicapped in any biological way - but raised in a home where the school and the state are enemies instead of allies.  School is something that you push yourself through because if you drop out, your social worker stops by to find out why.   Bry thinks that this girl has the capacity to overcome that system if she wanted to.  She's smart enough to get herself a real education if she were motivated.  She's tough enough to hold down  real job if there was anything she wanted to do badly enough.  But at 18, her life is all about which neighborhood rival is going to be waiting to fight with her when she gets home or how she's going to get her next buzz.   She has no joy in learning, she has no idea how many really interesting career possibilities are out there in the world right now, she doesn't even know how to wash socks.

She has 6 siblings who have grown up exactly the same way. 

It's called "culture of poverty" and it is rampant in upstate NY.   We really need more money in education for field trips to see giraffes and art museums and participate in revolutionary programs that take the kids out of their poverty based surroundings for a little while and let them experience the world in a more engaging way.   We need teachers who are trained to work with the families of these students to help education become a priority instead of a welfare requirement.

Yes, it's hard.  Yes, it's expensive.  Yes, I know that this is a very simplified, one dimensional view of a deeply entrenched, complex sub-culture.  (I was an anthro major, after all.)  But I really have to wonder if this young woman would be training to become a zoo-keeper or a veterinarian or a zoologist or an artist or a teacher if only she had learned that giraffes were real in time. 

Instead, she's probably going to become a welfare mom sometime soon.  Her kids won't learn how to wash socks, either.  I hope they get to see a giraffe.

On a happer note - my taxes are done.  I think I spent about 20 hours all told.  I don't think I can bill the government for that time but Earned Income Credit is going to buy a lot of groceries this summer.  Next year I am getting an accountant to do this for us because I don't know how to tell the IRS that we didn't use the truck for business purposes this year because everyone was too lazy to get their garbage out of their falling-down barns so my husband could disassemble them but he paid worker's comp insurance anyway because all year he thought he might get a job any minute now and would need to re-hire his employee but then the truck wouldn't pass inspection so it sat in the yard all summer and we finally sold it this February. 

If they audit us, I'll just direct the tax guy to this blog entry.  And hand him a big box of papers to sort through.

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