I’ve subbed long term in a hell-hole where the students keyed my car. They tried to slash my tires but they were either too weak or the knife was too dull to do more than surface scratches.

Cheating and copying was so rampant that I created multiple tests and handed them out so no two people next to each other would get identical tests. Within a minute I was fielding outraged complaints from the students about how unfair it was. Not the slightest notion that copying wasn’t an official part of the test procedure. Nor any idea that one ought not to shout, “This test is all fucked up!” without raising your hand and being called on first.

That particular school had something happen every week. They literally had a riot squad consisting of all the athletic coaches and some of the other larger male teachers that would react to fights. Those fights often turned really vicious, occasionally involving knives. Had a girl ask to go to the nurse’s office, with blood streaming down her arm. A couple guys had got into a fight, she had tried to step between them and she got “Mercutio-ed”.

I wanted to call 911 but I didn’t have a cell at the time and I didn’t have access to an outside line. That was the policy. Un-f-ing-believable! Must go thru the office. Fortunately it looked far worse than it was. I had her hold pressure on it while we got the nurse. We were lucky that day. The nurse was in. She rotates between several high schools.

The walls were a strange patchwork of different shades of grey boxes covering graffiti from 3 different street gangs, one for each of the major groups, white, black and Hispanic.

I don’t know how to turn schools like this around. Try to impose a bit of discipline or give a failing grade for cheating (or even just failing) and you have parents calling the Principle’s office screaming. As though the rules about not cheating, not fighting and actually doing homework didn’t apply to their kids.  Not quite The Blackboard Jungle but it surely seemed on the rough side.

Then there is this guy’s solution to the problem.

Seriously. One almost has to be a combat veteran to get thru sometimes.


These days I sub for grade school only. The schools have to be local enough to drive there in 15 minutes or I don’t take the job. Pretty much limits it to the small city I live in.

Grade school only. Fortunately there is enough demand I could work 5 days a week if I wanted.

Santa Clarita is a bedroom community. Not the most expensive in the area but also not the cheapest. We have our share of the working class but not much poverty. If you can’t afford to live here you keep going on to places like Val Verde, Palmdale, Little Rock, or stay in a few sections of the San Fernando Valley. 

The city kind of took it in the shorts when Lockheed shut down it’s Burbank facility, Rye Canyon facility and downsized it’s workforce in Palmdale. Likewise, all the local small business that catered to the needs of aerospace went away. Still, we bounced back. The movie industry loves to shoot ads, television and movies out here and large numbers of businesses are fleeing the high taxes and regulations of LA for a more business friendly environment.

That’s us. I figure it is better to have them set up shop here than to see them flee all the way to Texas and Georgia. It keeps my property values up – and that means I won’t end up in a cardboard box under a bridge in my old age or living in a roach motel completely on public assistance.

We have working class, middle class and affluent professionals all living in the same community – and that is a very good thing. The parents of these children believe in upward mobility and believe that education and hard work are the way to achieve that. We have kids living in trailer parks and kids living in mansions and everything in between.

Some of the more affluent opt for private schools. They still have to reluctantly pay their taxes to support the rest of us.

It wasn’t always that way here. Used to be an all white bastion of conservatism. As other ethnic groups work their way up thru working, middle and upper classes, they too want to flee the same mess as the white folks before them. At 65-35 GOP, we just elected the first Democrats to congress and the state assembly in the history of these districts. Ever.

Trump is to blame. GOP even lost the conservative white man’s vote here.


School isn’t what it was when I was a kid. There is almost no discipline at all today. Classes were quieter and more focused back them because of the terrible consequences of misbehavior. In the worst case scenario that included the Board of Education – with holes drilled in it to make it more painful. Then when you got home you had to face the wrath of your parents.

The Board of Education. I was properly acquainted with it. Didn’t do me much good or resolve any problems.

I don’t say that it was a better way to do things but serious spankings were very rare. The threat of them and clear rules about what invoked punishment kept kids in line. (Somehow bullies always found a way to ply their trade without official punishment for their misdeeds. You had to deliver the punishment yourself.)

Keeping kids in line has its value but running a school like a military unit is not conducive to the love of learning for every child. (However, that may be what is needed in the very worst schools until respect and order are restored.) A free spirited child either has their spirit crushed or they go into quiet rebellion (what I did). Not good.

Back to the subject here. The kids I’m subbing for are all good kids. There are always the mischievous ones and the drama queens and the tattlers and the teasers and the geeks. That is just kids being kids. If one child deliberately hurts another child, emotionally or physically we (school staff) take it seriously. By taking it seriously early on, big problems later are avoided.

The classes I sub for are truly diverse.

The district is in an area of town that is predominantly working class but also happens to include some very wealthy people. The classes I have seen are all “rainbow” classes. No group has a majority or even a large plurality. White, black , Hispanic, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian and kids whose origins are visually indeterminate. They pair up to play without respect to race, religion, ethnicity, creed, or national origin. I have often thought that until the entire country becomes a genetic melting pot like this, racism will always be a concern.

I saw two boys holding hands on the playground and nobody giving them any flak for it. Have I died and gone to heaven?

It is not always a rose garden. Recently I subbed for a class of 9 to 11 year olds with severe learning disabilities, some with uber-autism and others with Down’s syndrome. The smallest child was a 4 ft. tall and slender girl, age 11. The largest was taller than I am and probably outweighed me by 50 pounds. He was the largest 11 year old I have ever seen. I’m glad he was Down’s and not Asperger. IIRC, Down’s don’t get violent.

One girl would start screaming for reasons I was not able to determine. She was dangerous in terms of throwing chairs about and punching. The head aide for the class told me that her parents insisted she didn’t understand a word anyone said to her, yet both the aid and I were able to hold simple conversations with her as long as her responses only had to be yes and no. 

She was able to follow along in class an could play a simplified version of concentration on the Smartboard. I was even able to talk her back once when she was in the fetal position on the floor ignoring class. Mayhaps the parents were part of the problem?

When an autistic kid flips, there can be a real chance of harm to oneself and to the child.

Also that day a boy simply lost it. He was screaming at an aid, punching her and throwing things, calling her the c-word and an f-ing b****, and destroying anything he could lay his hands on. He was also screaming “No thank you!” making for an odd mixture of profanity, leading me to think the other “anger” words were something he picked up at home.

Parents have a responsibility to behave like adults. Nothing so frightening or so disgusting as a parent raging out of control. Maybe Dad has the same problem his son does?

She shut him into the bathroom (our “safe” room) and informed him we would not let him out until he had slowed down. After 20 minutes of crashing about he quieted down and the aid opened the door. First he threw his pants in her face and then a fully loaded diaper and went back to raging. (Yes. Some of these kids wear diapers. Pull-ups, actually.)

Apparently this is par for the course. By end of day he had calmed down to where she could get him cleaned up and put on a new diaper. From then on it was crying and sobbing. She even managed to get him to apologize to another boy he’d gotten into an argument with and which probably precipitated the whole thing.

For this I get an extra $25 a a day!  I could opt out of subbing for special ed classes. A lot of subs do. Somebody has to do it and they need someone who cares and not just a warm body.

Beats the hell out of getting your tire slashed. Or being lectured by a principle who didn’t want to hear from any more parents.