Redefining HIGH School

Dec 3, 2011 by

Matthew Amaral – To say marijuana is a problem at my school is a gross understatement. There is a tree next to the gas station across the street from campus where students smoke weed almost every morning at 7:30 AM. I drive by and see groups of wannabes huddled in clouds of smoke. Kids walk into my class with red eyes stinking like skunk. Sometimes we suspend them. Most of the time teachers don’t realize the reason kids are giggling and scatterbrained is because they’re high, and can’t recognize the smell anyway. But no matter what we do, the problem persists because of the acceptance by parents.

In California, weed can almost be considered a culture. It is a uniting practice among a large segment of our population who don’t agree with its illegal label, and furthermore believe it is a way of life. Weed will be legal in this state sooner rather than later, and no matter its status today, they go about their lives as if lighting up is the same thing as drinking coffee.

And 90% of high school students have an easier time finding marijuana than buying a pack of cigarettes.

Unfortunately, on our public school campuses, smoking weed also has the aura of being what the cool kids do. Smoking blunts, hitting bongs, toking joints, and puffing on pipes is looked at as an essential part of their culture. It is a ceremony you need to know about if you want to be known.

Of course, the idea of teenagers doing drugs isn’t anything new. Teenage drug use is always analyzed and bemoaned, and as it began to peak in the 80s and 90s, we kept saying things like, “Kids today.” Despite the fact that teenage pregnancy, drug use, and crime have gone down in recent years (all of it peaked in the 90s), marijuana use remains widespread.

When I catch a kid high, I ask them, “What would happen if I called your dad?”

“Go ahead,” they tell me. “He’s probably high right now.”

So I call their dad, and sure enough he says, “Look, I know he’s smoking weed. I smoke weed. When I was his age I smoked weed too. All his friends smoke weed. Everyone I know smokes weed. What do you want me to do?”

Once again, I am forced to ask people to act like adults.

When I give my Weed Talk in class, it has a very clear message. Compare the weed smokers on this campus to the kids who don’t smoke weed. Who is more successful? Now compare the adults you know who smoke weed to the ones who don’t. Weed isn’t the worst drug in the world. More people die from prescription medications every year than marijuana and alcohol combined (does anyone actually die from weed?). But I have to admit, the people who live that lifestyle—smoke blunts every day, live their lives high—aren’t as successful.

I know lawyers and doctors who smoke weed. I know teachers who smoke weed. But the big difference is that they aren’t constantly high. They light up on weekends. They toke after work. They don’t let it get in the way of their real lives. Weed isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it can be if you make it the center of yours.

I just wish parents would act like parents. Even if you smoke weed, do you have to do it in front of your kids? Do you have to make it a part of their lives too? Do you want alcohol to be a part of their lives at 14? Would you care if they were coming to school drunk?

I guess the answer is simple, but hard to swallow. Those parents could care less whether their kids are successful or not. How could they? Because even the weed smokers I know always say, you can’t be high when you got important shit to do.

What is more important than a kid’s education? Certainly not your joint, mom and dad.
On Nov 18, 2011, at 04:14 AM, Jimmy Kilpatrick <> wrote:

Thank you Matt.


America’s Real Immigration Problem




Jimmy Kilpatrick
Senior International Policy Advisor for The Haberman International Policy Institute in Education

Phone: 832 814-7463




From: Matthew Amaral []
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2011 1:49 AM
To: Jimmy Kilpatrick
Subject: Blog


Hey Jimmy, here’s my latest, art also attached if you want it.


America’s Real Immigration Problem

I was recently talking to a teacher from another district who has more undocumented students than my district. His high school has a larger Latino immigrant population, and therefore his students face obstacles in their everyday lives most people don’t even think about. He even has to dedicate part of class time informing students what to do if ICE comes knocking. “Look,” he tells his class, “If ICE comes knocking, you don’t answer the door. Period. You let them knock and knock and you just make sure you and your family stay inside and be quiet Because if they have a warrant and they’re really coming to get you, there ain’t anything you can do anyway. They’ll knock the door down.”

Sure enough, ICE came knocking on the doors of two or three of his students last week The families stayed inside, didn’t answer the door, didn’t go to work, and his students didn’t go to school. At one family’s door, ICE knocked for two and a half hours.

Imagine being fourteen years old thinking that any moment the Feds might come bursting through the door to take away your mother and father—and maybe you too.

We have an immigrant problem in this country, I’ll agree with that. But the problem I see isn’t the problem you hear about anywhere in our media. The problem we really have is that our country is getting rid of immigrants and keeping all the Americans.

Tell me how is it that we have so much money to send ICE looking for dark immigrants who do nothing but break their backs working all day, but can’t take care of the gangs and the drug dealers? If my tax money is going to fight crime, shouldn’t it be working against criminals?

At my own school, I usually don’t know who my undocumented students are until they are seniors and start applying to college. One dead giveaway is that their grades are good enough that they can actually get into a good college. Want to know what all the Americans are doing? They’re lucky if they make it to Junior year.

Don’t believe me? Come to my school any day of the week. Please. The problems we have at our schools are not all the undocumented immigrants, trust me. Our biggest problems are caused by all the American citizens running around with social security numbers.

But don’t worry, because I have come up with a solution for our immigrant problem: Instead of deporting the illegal immigrants, lets start getting rid of useless Americans.

There is a historical basis for my unusual solution. We like to forget this country was built on the backs of immigrants. We’re all immigrants, yes, even you. It was that special work ethic, that yearning for a better world that made America what it is today. Immigrants from all over the world came to a place where hard work will win you success. Isn’t that what we trumpet from the cold coast of Maine to the farthest reaches of Alaska? Wasn’t that our old motto, before they changed it last week into trusting a make believe deity?

But today we face a problem here in the United States. We’ve lost that work ethic that once made us innovative. We’ve lost that dedication and commitment to hard work that filled and fertilized our agricultural fields to feed 300 million people. We’ve lost everything in this jungle of reality television and iTunes. We are failing because we have forgotten what it is like to work hard for your dreams.

The state of Alabama is a perfect, sad example of our lost labors. They have recently scared off all the illegals from working in fields because they want to open up those wonderful jobs to actual Americans. The problem? The Americans are unwilling to work hard enough to fill all the vacant positions. They show up on the first day, but not the second. Or they last a week. Or they don’t even show up at all because they refuse to do that kind of work. Therefore, the law is in fact crippling Alabama farms.

My buddy in another district says it very simply. “Why are they trying to deport these kids and their families? I know their families. They work all hours of the day and are not criminals. And why is it the immigrant kids are the ones with the best GPAs, the ones who stay after school, and volunteer on weekends, and help tutor other kids?” Of course he knows the answer—our undocumented students know what it’s like to live in a country where opportunity is limited. They know how it feels to want an education but not have one available to them. That is why they work so hard when they get here They can appreciate the American dream.

So maybe we should send some of our Americans to new horizons and let them see what life is like in the rest of the world. Let’s send the kids who don’t bring backpacks, paper, or pencils to school to a country where the kids don’t have access to any of those things. Let’s send our gangsters down to El Salvador and let them see what a REAL gang is all about. Lets say if you have a .25 GPA, 17 suspensions and you’ve threatened two of your teachers you automatically qualify.

Of course, that would then be unfair to the countries we’d be sending them to.

But let’s stop spending so much money searching out hardworking families who now more than ever embody what it used to mean to be an American.

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