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  • Writer's pictureGary Gruber

“I Wanna Get Laid”

In 1993 I was working as a long-term substitute Language Arts teacher at Jefferson Middle School in Indio CA. Teaching was a very natural medium for me since I had already done time teaching both photography and martial arts. I thought I could make a difference.

Sasha was in 3rd grade at Sacred Heart Catholic school, a private school here in the desert. To gauge the quality of the public school educational system and understand how much work I actually had to do with the students I gave the 7th graders Sasha's third grade assignments. None of the students could complete them.

While I can easily look back at my time in college and reflect upon myself at that age, I was lost while looking at 12 year olds and trying to decipher what I was like back then. It would be another two years before I would start to have little private conversations with God which set me on my road to the religious fervor that I embrace today -- and my conversion as a Catholic. Regardless of where I was socially in ‘93, or how I related to others during that period, certain things stopped me dead in my tracks and made me question the sense of morality, or more appropriately the lack thereof that I observed among the youth of that generation.

As I walked down the aisles of the classroom to get a feel for how the children we're doing with the assignment I had just given them, I walked past a sprightly, enthusiastic, and reasonably intelligent young girl and heard her state emphatically “I wanna get laid!”

This shook me to my core and I momentarily lost my mental balance -- and was left deaf and dumb, unable to respond. When class was over that day I marched into the principal's office and explained what I heard and what had happened. He knew the young lady in question, and assured me that he would speak to her about it.

It would only be a couple of days later that I saw a half a dozen or more young ladies gathered just outside the confines of the school perimeter talking to another girl who appeared to be their age who was carrying a baby. It turned out to be a 13 year old classmate who had just had a child, and all the girls were envious.

After a little research, I found out that the school district, which is predominantly Hispanic, had a 13% pregnancy rate among 13-year-olds. Their answer was to build a daycare center for the babies of the babies so that they could return to their classes. This lit a fire inside me and I wrote a 6 page letter to the governor -- which went unacknowledged and unanswered. Not having yet defined my life by my faith and belief in God, I had nowhere to turn and felt as if I had been swallowed up by a deep, dark vacuum inside a black hole somewhere out in the universe.

I did my best to reason with the young ladies in the class and explain the obvious difficulties with following that path: they were immune to my logic and reason, and I had no way to reach them. Other episodes throughout the school year reinforced my belief that the problem lie not just with the students themselves, but with their parents and the entire infrastructure of teaching. Too much emphasis was placed on the student’s ability to ascertain what path to take. Too little emphasis was placed on the notion of adults being the rudder of the ship. History was cast aside as an encumbrance, not elevated to its rightful place as a guide dog of past actions and their consequences – something to be studied prior to embarking on a journey that would only foster the same mistakes over and over again.

The 80’s experimentation with outcome based education set the stage for the dismal failure of the 90’s and the following generation. The perspective lost over the course of two generations led to parents unable to guide their children, or even recognize the difference between the two entities. The foibles of situational ethics and ‘personal truth' led us to where we are today. Whether we can untie this Gordian Knot with anything less than the sword of Alexander the Great remains to be seen.

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