Amazing things happen in our public school all the time. Teachers who call me at night to discuss a wonderful thing my daughter accomplished, text messages of my children enjoying a group art project, a classroom project about Odetta – the voice of the Civil Rights movement. But there are tough times too, kids who act out or are disruptive in class.
There is a recent NYTimes Op-Ed about stats that show children with special needs don’t do well in charter schools like Success Academy. In fact, statistics show that much of the “success” of charter schools is based on the fact that they push out children who can’t survive their “no-excuses” regimes, something that public schools can’t do. And should not do! Read the Op-ed here, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/05/opinion/charter-school-refugees.html?hp&rref=opinion&_r=1
And read a great blog post about it here: https://teacherbiz.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/quick-send-your-kids-to-charters-lest-they-be-tossed-in-the-lions-den-with-the-special-needs-student/
It has made me think of a child in particular that our public school has worked with this year and the impact on our children. First, to preface, my girl, is very sensitive and a tad on the anxious side, and other children’s emotional distress has a big impact on her. In the beginning of the year, there was a child who the school was trying to mainstream into our class. I, of course, don’t know all the details of her, or her IEP, but I knew enough to see that she was struggling. Her behavior was disruptive, she was angry in class. The teacher tried hard to work with the child, she also asked the class to try and work with the child. “Let’s all try and help X with his feelings and respect when he is feeling upset and give him space.” I think this was a good thing for my Girl to see, to see grown-ups give attention and caring to another human being who was hard to deal with & to NOT see a child thrown away or discarded.
Unfortunately, in the end, the child was unable to be mainstreamed and was removed from our class and placed in a different class. My children observed this transition, my girl was relieved, because the constant disruptions were hard for her. BUT what was outstanding/miraculous even was that they never learned to stigmatize or blame the child. My children used language that they obviously learned from the school, like “well he needs to learn to deal with his anger more” or “he was moved to a class where there is more support for him.” They learned to have compassion, love, and patience for someone struggling.
Again and again, I see my school treat struggling children with love and compassion. What do children in schools like Success Academy feel learn when their classmates get kicked out of school because they couldn’t follow the strict letter of the law?