Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I'm having a problem...

I thought that what I was doing would be accepted by everyone. I thought that what I was doing was amazing. I thought that EVERY American citizen would be interested in the difference between educated post-felons and non-educated current felons. I thought I would be respected....

I'm having a problem. I found out that not everyone believes in education for felons. Not everyone wants to divert state funds to educating people in jail. Not everyone believes they are worth anything more than a basic meal and a life spent away from society. Except- here is the problem- if they were
taken out of your community, they will eventually be put back into your community. You don't have a choice. You can't yell or tantrum your way out of changing this fact. It simply won't happen once they are out on parole. So, then by not accepting this change, you are  telling me you that you want the same drug addicted, high school dropout, father or mother to 3-4 kids by as many different partners on the streets. No? Yeah, I don't either.

See, here's the thing. I didn't get into this line of work because I wanted to martyr myself. I had NO information about this lifestyle prior to this job. I didn't know anything about gangs, tattoos, cultural expectations, or violence. I have been completely naive and stuck under the rock of natural selection. I admit this but I have seen a different side to life. I want to HELP them. I want to give them something to hang onto so that they can actually find work that will not only fulfill them but will give them a life they can be proud of.

I want to give them a future.

But I am finding it hard, no...really different... than what I anticipated. See, I thought, based on what I have been told, that I would be set up by the students so that they could get me into trouble. The problem is that this hasn't happened. The students have been ridiculously respectful, ready to work hard, get into the text and work like they never have before. The issue that I have been having is with the Deputies.

THEY HATE ME.

No, seriously, they hate me. The guy in the bubble that buzzes me in and out is so insulting, I want to run away. The two inmate trustees are awesome and respect me and want to make sure I am so absolutely protected that they tend to be a little overbearing, but in reality, I am the only thing they can protect, so they take it seriously. The CAs or Custody Assistants that I work with in this program are awesome and really into making sure that we are comfortable. But the reality is that 50% of the
Deputies are not happy. They hate what we do. They hate what we teach. They hate that we spend our time trying to educate people they think are not capable of being educated. They hate that the students are respectful and willing to work for me when they are really not interested in doing anything productive for the Deputies.

Yet, I have to maintain respect 24/7. I have to be their teacher, supervisor, counselor, fixer, confidante, role model, and maintain countless other roles that I have not necessarily been trained for. It's not so different than what I was doing before, but yet it is. I deal with a faction of the government that I never anticipated questioning and all the while, I am trying to teach and enlighten people that our society has given up on. I am trying to teach the "unteachable."

But, these guys needs metaphorical cheerleaders that are constantly telling them they can do whatever is in front of them. It is important. It has never happened in their lives. They need believers. We can be those believers. We can be the change.
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