I mentioned this in the comments, but I thought it deserved a space on the main page:
I should stress that this school (where I've been subbing) is in an economically depressed inner-city, and full of the children of immigrants from impoverished and/or war-torn nations. That is to say, this school is trying to help kids coming from the worst of circumstances; these kids are the products of the worst of circumstances.
I'm in no way implying that all--or most--4th graders are like the ones I met and attempted to teach on Monday. In fact, I recently spent a lovely day covering 5th grade in a comfortable suburb, full of children of educated and employed parents who do not come from impoverished, war-torn nations (though many came from India)--and it was a different universe.
4 months ago