Friday, May 7, 2010

When You Want to Throttle The Teacher

I have to think that one of the worst things we go through with our children is when the people we entrust them to during the day are total morons. I was very lucky with the boys. That really was not a usual occurrence once we moved to our town. In New York City it was a constant in any school situation. In fact, it was when people actually were descent to collegeman that that was the surprise. But once we moved to our little hamlet, most of those that worked with him actually were quite good at what they did. Now that is not to say that there aren’t people that I have come across that I would have wanted to throttle. Believe you me there is always the asshats in the room, but generally when I complained my complaint was respected and something was done. Where Highschoolboy was concerned it seems we did have more idiots percapita than collegeman, but mostly people worked very hard to find a way to help them.

I have to tell you though that it is not only the special needs child that has problems with teachers, plenty of NT children are faced with ridicule as well. Interestingly of course, it was in highschoolboy’s fifth grade class that the NT children suffered just as he did. It was supposed to be a co-taught class. The special education teacher was to lend support to the regular education teacher, modify curriculum and support the special needs children. Well of course, the first thing the special ed teacher did was take everything that had helped highschoolboy function and change the entire system (she was just so much smarter than anyone else-don’t you just love people like that). Highschoolboy knew no one in his class because of the makeup of the room but she made no effort to integrate him, and decided to leave him on his own. Not knowing how to make friends or talk to people, hello aspergers, he would sit by himself at lunch and talk to himself. Did she do anything about it, of course not, it meant she would have to do some work and actually think.

In the meantime, the regular ed teacher decided she knew what was best for highschoolboy and decided to take it upon herself to let him get away with poor behavior. Now of course, since he wasn’t structured and had no idea of how he was supposed to act, he constantly acted out. I was called to the school so many times, that quite frankly I ended up hanging out in the nurse’s office and we became fast friends.

I had no idea how truly bad the situation was until one day the other children in the class told me what was going on. Luckily one of the boys in the class is our next door neighbor and it bothered him because having known highschoolboy for years he didn’t like how he was not being helped. I then went into action and called the district. They sent an autism specialist to help out. Well of course neither of the classroom teachers liked that under any circumstances. In fact when we had a meeting about how to help him, the special ed teacher hadn’t even prepared for the meeting, actually told her boss who was in the meeting that she had been too busy with family to bother to prepare for the meeting. (Needless to say she didn’t make tenure. But she already knew that she wasn’t being given tenure when she started the year with my son. Why they let her continue to torture him is beyond me. I don’t care about teacher contracts. The school districts obligation is to the students not to teachers especially when they do things that harm the children)

At this point I had a real talk with the Vice Principal. He tried to make excuses for the teachers how they are fighting over my son. He tried to make it sound like they are both so involved in wanting to help him that he was so loved. Bullshit. They wanted control over him because they wanted to control that room. I told him to tell that to grow up. That highschoolboy was the child not them and they had better cut it out or they will have to deal with me.

Now what you have to remember this middle school had been wonderful for collegeman. He thrived and grew during his years at that school, so I knew there were competent teachers around. It unfortunately was not the group highschoolboy was with at the moment. Except that the other teachers on the team, the science and math teachers both knew how incompetent those two were and did try to compensate for all the children’s sake, s best they could.

Well as I said I lived at that school during the year. In fact I told the principal that he was to build me a room with a cot so I could rest when I wasn’t needed to pick up the pieces. The reality is, is that you should not have to do that when it comes to your child. The people that are charged with the education of your children are supposed to themselves be adult enough to function on a level beyond that of spoiled moron. But you do what you have to, fortunately I was in a position that I could be there in that school all the time. Some in fact I would think most are not.

Well, thank heaven for that autism specialist. She rearranged the classroom, created a lunch buddy program for highschoolboy and kept a constant watch on what was happening in that room. She also made sure that they didn’t change their mind about tenure for that bitch in special ed teacher clothing. One of the things that the school district did was to force the special ed teacher to take a medical leave to have some kind of knee operation.This way they brought in a substitute and told the special ed teacher that if she came back she would be placed somewhere else. Which if it was me, I would have taken the full disability leave, but I think she thought they would let her back in and lo and behold there she was one day in another classroom.

Highschoolboy ended up ok in the end. The teachers that he was assigned to the next year were who we in town called the “golden team.” One of them actually confided in me that they had no idea what they were getting when highschoolboy came to them. He was such a mess. They were not sure what he could or could not do and what he could or could not understand. It was without a doubt their efforts and hard work, which helped highschoolboy grow by leaps and bounds that following year.

The ultimate point of the story though has to do with the NT children in that class. They all were suffering because of the incompetence and the stupidity of those two so-called teachers. Highschoolboy’s class was an inclusion class. So apart from 5 designated children in the class, there were every level of student and some gifted students as well. One of the mothers of the gifted students told me that the regular ed teacher had told her son that he participated too much in class and that he needed to learn to not ask so many questions. What he should do was to write down the questions he had during class and ask them at a different time. See an asshat to one is an asshat to all. I think sometimes we, as parents of special needs children, tend to forget that just because your child doesn’t have issues doesn’t mean they are taught by Einstein.

Collegeman had had a wonderful experience with acting in middle school. For his 8th grade class he had performed The Taming of the Shrew. He had played Petruchio in one scene. Now I can tell you that he did his best, and no, he was no Richard Burton, but he had had a good time. Well when he moved up to the highschool he wanted to do theater. The special ed director told him that person with aspergers could not act. Well that is all she wrote. Collegeman has not been on a stage since. In fact I even tried to sign him up in college for an acting class that would have helped with his interpersonal skills. Apart from the fact that the Dean of the Drama department didn’t want to deal with an autistic person in class (see this blog) collegeman really didn’t want to be in the class. So I took him out and studied business law. Of course he got an A and really thrived in that class. By the way that special ed director at the highschool was forcibly retired the following year. Something about parental complaints and, not just mine, and oh a few threatened lawsuits, I think.

Will collegeman ever get on a stage again? I can’t tell you, but he wants to be a lawyer and he wants to litigate, so there is some kind of acting in his future, we just aren’t going to call it that. I know that he is not afraid to voice his opinions in class and that in his recent law class as a jury member he was complimented by the teacher for his argumentative ability to get his point across. He brought up case law and definitions and missing facts from the case to try to sway the other jurors to his side. He lost, but he was the only one that applied law to the case. I think arguing is definitely in collegeman’s future. Shakespeare maybe not, but then he truly wasn’t another Olivier, no matter how many acting classes he would have taken, it just wasn’t going to happen. So we chalk it up to a moron and we found another outlet for collegeman’s creativity.

I can even relate a story that happened to me as a child. When I was in fifth grade I read a book called Americans All. It was a history book about the contributions that Jewish-Americans had made to the development of the United States. Now we are talking way back in the late 1960s so, no one was even trying to figure out any contributions that any ethnic groups had made to this country. Well I was so excited about that book that I went up to the teacher and showed her look what Jewish-American had done. She wouldn’t believe me. Told me I could believe what I want and she would believe what she wants. Of course, all the other children snickered as I sat back down in my seat. Oh, by the way, I and my sister were the only Jewish students on our school and we were living in the Deep South at the time.

When I got home, I told my parents what had happened. My mother being a strong woman born and raised in the Bronx wasn’t going to let some southern bitch ruin my self-respect, so in typical fashion, she started making fun of the teacher. While I know my mother treaded a careful line at that time, because she didn’t want me to become so disrespectful that I would end up in trouble in class, but she knew she had to do something to let me know the teacher was an idiot and that nothing I thought or did was wrong. In fact, whenever we disagreed with someone’s position on something, that teacher’s sentence is always brought up with a mocking tone. To this day, we are still making fun of the ignorance of that teacher.

So what do we do when the teachers are asshats and you just without a doubt want to throttle them? You countermand every order they give your child. You make fun of and ridicule them to your child, so they don’t take to heart anything that is negatively about them. Oh in the meantime, you also get a hold of the special ed director, the principal of the school and if necessary you contact an advocate or a lawyer. You threaten the professionals within an inch of their lives, in a legal and calm manner. You have the lawyer investigate civil rights violations and in many states verbal derogation of a child is considered child abuse as well. Check out your state’s statutes.

I think that we all go through this at one point or another with our children. Self-esteem is fragile enough without some asshats, moron and total incompetent shredding your child’s soul. You do what I told you before. You buck up your child. You make them understand that you do not agree with those teachers and that the teachers are wrong. You, on a constant basis remind them how special and unique and wonderful they are. You work at it day and night and night and day. You ensure that your child is ready to embrace who they are and is proud of who they are.

But then you go slow. You stop; you think, organize, plot and plan. You take your time. You go deliberately. You find the answers you need and you seek the help you need as well. . The Sicilians say, revenge is a dish best served cold. When you are calm, then babe you get your bitch on.

Until next time,