Thursday, May 29, 2008

Inclusion and Education (notice I didn't say anything about the butthead teacher)

The story of Alex Barton has been circulating for nearly a week; if you have not heard about it then put on your indignant pants and have a read.
I was in tears when I read how his kindergarten teacher, in some sickly misguided Survivor-esque 'council meeting', asked sixteen children in her class to vote on a classmate's inclusion - or, in this case, exclusion.
When Alex, who is in the diagnostic process for Asperger's, was allowed back in the classroom, he was asked to stand at the front of the classroom while the children in his class were encouraged to tell him what they didn't like about him. (Disgusting, annoying...)
(Oh yes, well I actually do think it is disgusting and annoying that that was allowed to happen...but those were the actual insults hurled to Alex's face.)


While this is normally the type of thing I would jump on to rant about, this story made me so incredibly sad that my brain could scarcely wrap itself around the reality of this happening.
I know, I know; terrible things happen every day...but in my very relevant world of having a child the beginning of her school career, this sent me careening.

I think of our little mountain school, the one Supergirl attends. The school in which the entire staff has taken the Tribes training course and implement these methods constantly. The ZERO tolerance for bullying or 'put-downs'. The conflict resolution training for teachers and and for the peers who become playground assistants. The way children are recognized and rewarded for committing kind and respectful acts at lunch or recess by astute monitors, and at each monthly assembly for attributes such as 'integrity' or 'determination'. The way there is a collective and cohesive attitude of 'I've got your back' among nearly all the students.
The school which mocks me with its idyllic offerings, daring me to go through with my move to Hawaii (where my children would surely suffer at the hands of one of the worst public education systems in the US, along with getting their haole asses kicked regularly)...and winning me over enough to postpone the tropics for the sake of my children's educational foundation.

Fourteen out of the sixteen voted Alex off the island out of kindergarten.
I would love to meet the other two children and their parents. The families of the children who, in spite of peer pressure and a clear endorsement from their teacher to let their hate loose, still did not cast their votes against their classmate.

If you would like to show support for Alex and his mother, please follow the link in this update to his new email.


furiousBall said...

I agree and appreciate your observation and appreciation for those two rather than contempt for the 14.

I hope the 14 will learn one day. but until then i will leave flamming bags of poo on their doorstep, just like my ancestors did since the dawn of time (or the invention of fire and bags...)

Cindy said...

OMG. Makes me want to enlarge the pic of that teacher and fashion a dart board for my office. That's just unbelievable. Good thing I had my indignant pants right here.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if I'm understanding your sentence on Hawaiian schools so excuse me if I'm wrong, but we are sometimes interested in moving to Hawaii and just read an internet poll that rated Oahu as the best place to raise kids, criteria being publics school system that allocates $9000 per student!

maybaby said...

What. The. Hell.

I'm a kindergarten teacher and I've had at least one student "on the spectrum" for the last 11 years. This story is just sickening to me.


Zoe said...

wow, how unbelievably sad. things like this really make you question the human race. that boy is precious. those children who voted him out the classroom will have to live with the damaging affect of this too. possibly misguided by peer pressure and their teacher, many of them, as they grow older, will have to come to terms with what they did. it may haunt them.

mamadaisy said...

absolutely disgusting.

jenk said...

This is so very sad. Maybe I just expect more from Kindergarten than any other grade, but how could a kindergarten teacher think this was okay in any way? No matter what kind of outbursts this boy suffered from, this is cruel behavior from his teacher. Not to mention cruel to those poor students still in her class being taught that this kind of action is acceptable.