Personal and Institutional
June dropped out of school, in the same school district where her daughter attended, at the end of her eighth-grade year. She told me she had never been in a special-education class; although on a visit to the middle school, June remembered a red stripe on the wall that symbolized the hallway where the special-education classes used to be located. June told me her reading was "doin' good" until she dropped out of school. She complained, though, that her reading kept "goin' down." June didn't speak about her educational history often, as if she could create a new history for herself through her children. However, one afternoon in her kitchen she re-created her experience of dropping out of school:
I just stopped going ... I went to the high school first, then I moved to the south like in seventy-something'. Then I came back here and went to the adult learning center ... I was about, what nineteen? I didn't have no kids then ... I stopped goin' there after a few months because I had to start workin'. Yeah, I had to start workin' and I just went back to school in September . (transcript, 11/11/97)
Knowing June's determination to improve her own literacy, I wondered how, as a struggling reader, she had been able to negotiate the school curriculum up until the eighth grade. June explained:
'Cause I just was going [to school] every day. But what I am sayin' is that I was really doin' good up until the ninth grade. And then when I stopped goin' to school for that long time, that was when I was goin' down. 'Cause I hadn't been back in school. From kindergarten to ninth I was doin' just fine. But when I dropped out I was just getting lower in my readin'. I was goin' down then. 'Cause I wasn't doin' nothin'. I wasn't readin'. I wasn't doin' no type of activity for readin' or writin', nothin' like that, after I dropped out of school. (transcript, 11/11/97)
I learned from listening to June talk about her history with education that attendance at school was a significant part of what it meant to be a "good student." Attendance is an issue she reinforced with her own children.