When did adults start letting children make major decisions, or asking for the children's permission to make one for them? This boggles my wee little brain.
Yesterday I spent an hour in a conference with a parent, her daughter, the counselor, all the kid's other teachers, and the SPED advisor. The child transferred into our school this year, and because her records were late in arriving the counselor didn't realize she was SPED and required special services. So she put her into our pod, which is an accelerated pod. There are general classes in our pod, but no inclusion teachers, and for you non-teachers, when a kid has an IEP like this kid does, we are legally obligated to provide certain services according to whatever her plan says. For example, someone is supposed to read the test questions aloud to this kid, we have to modify tests for her to make them shorter, she needs modified classroom assignments, etc. Well, in our pod we don't have inclusion teachers to do all that stuff, so it would fall to the regular classroom teachers and
she would be the only kid in the entire pod receiving the services. It would really, really be difficult to pull it off. And of course I can be sued if I fail to document how I did these things, so you can see why I might want them to send the kid to a class where there's someone on staff specifically to do this kind of thing.
When the counselor found her mistake and tried to move the kid to where she needed to be, the kid threw a fit, and the mother hesitated as a result. So we spent an hour yesterday all huddled around these two, explaining why this is important, and trying to get the parent to agree to do it. But the parent was looking to the kid, as if for permission, every time she wanted to open her mouth and speak. It was maddening.
After half an hour of resistance on the child/mother's part (they seemed to be one in the same, after all), the other teachers started backing off and giving in. I could tell that's where they were headed because they started saying things like, "You COULD make it over here, but you'd have to really reach deep inside yourself and work hard." They were telling her she'd have to go home and spend extra time working, etc.
I called bullshit. I'm sorry, but even the most optimistic part of me can't believe she could make it. She reads on an elementary level-- a low elementary level. And she's supposed to "reach deep inside" and overcome that? Really? Then why didn't she just "reach deep inside" and learn to read when she was in 3rd grade??? We could talk all day about how she could
go home and work extra hard, but the facts are that: A) extra work doesn't overcome a learning disability, especially extra work at home with a mother who is no more educated than the child, and B) so far she's failed to turn in a single regular assignment-- so forget doing anything above and beyond.
She has a learning disability. It's not her fault, but this feel good bullshit isn't going to address the problem. And if I seemed like a cold hard bitch for pissing on everyone's nipple rubbing party, I'm sorry, but you can't expect me to pretend that this was the answer. Not in a world where I am held more accountable for the child's progress than she is. Not in a world where my
name is printed next to her
test score and then published in the newspaper and everywhere else for the world to use as a measuring stick of my
skills as a teacher. NnnnO. So I told her I that I understood how hard it was going to be for her to change classes, but that making this difficult decision now was going to prevent her some pain in the near future. I told her that if she could get up the courage to take this painful step now, it would show a lot of maturity because it's what's best for her, blah blah blah. The parent finally said, "She's gonna hafta go over there then."
THANK YOU. And again I ask you: When did adults stop making decisions about what's best for their kids? When did we start leaving that to the kids themselves? When did we start asking for their permission? COME ON. If this had been when I was in school, I wouldn't have been consulted! My ass would've shown up to school one day and been handed a new schedule, and that would've been the end of it! No conference necessary! I'm not saying I wouldn't have thrown a fit, or that my mother wouldn't have felt bad. I would've raised hell, and my mother would've been upset-- probably with the school for making the mistake in the first place as well as just being upset at watching me go through something that sucked. But it is what it is. I guess the parent finally came around to that, but it sure took a lot of steering.
This incident is just a snapshot of the big picture of what's happening in our schools. We're expected to "raise the standards" and "expect more of the kids" and all that crap. We're supposed to be getting them onto grade level, etc., but we can't do anything that upsets the children because we might injure their fragile self esteem. We need to cut the bullsh*t and do what's best for these kids whether it feels good or not.
A lot of people would strongly disagree with me on this, and some of them would say that I don't believe in the kids. I say they
don't believe in them. They're thinking short-term; I'm thinking long-term. I don't think we give them enough credit. Kids are resilient. Past generations have withstood everything these kids have to deal with and then some, and came out just fine if not better. I personally know people who grew up sh*t poor with no daddy and became very strong, successful adults, so you can't tell me that being sh*t poor with no daddy invariably leads to a life of welfare or crime or misery. The only difference is that they don't feel sorry for themselves for the cards they were dealt, and I think the only problem with today's kids is that we feel sorry for them. They don't have good families, or they don't have any money or whatever, or some other part of their life is less than perfect. We see that and instantly want to make another part of their life as easy as possible. We cushion it for them, and in doing so we fail to help them gain strength. We give them excuses that allow them to not try.
We're doing them a disservice.
Rant over. I have to go make some copies.