Tuesday, April 29, 2008

And We Wonder Why Teachers Are Leaving the Field in Record Numbers

My mother (and father too actually) is a teacher. She teaches sixth grade and deals with some pretty bratty kids. However, my mom is also an excellent teacher and is usually able to turn even some pretty hardened students around. This year, though, she has one student who has repeatedly given her problems. She has spoken with parents, written notes to teachers, and discussed the situation with her principal. Her male principal typically brushes her off and basically tells her to deal with it herself. Recently, this student has become much worse and has said some pretty inappropriate things to and around my mother. Again, she has taken all available actions to no avail. Her principal most recently told her to think about "the best interest of the student."

Yesterday afternoon she called me, extremely upset because this same student had told an entire classroom (in another teacher's class) that my mother was his lover and that he wasn't supposed to tell. That teacher called my mother to relay the extraordinary story. My mother then called the student's parents and set up a meeting. She also emailed an extremely professional letter to the assistant principal and principal, requesting the student be removed from her class. Both gentlemen told her she was overreacting and that she simply needed to brush the kid off because "everyone knows how he is."

The problems here are numerous; however, I will focus on the ones that upset me the most. First, instead of treating my mother with the respect that she deserves, she was brushed off and told she was overreacting. I do not think, though, in this day and age that it is an overreaction for a teacher to be concerned when a comment like this is made. Unfortunately, if this claim was taken seriously by ANYONE, my mother would be investigated and likely suspended during such investigation. Additionally, this student, even at this tender age, realizes the power that sex has. It got him attention, number one, but I am sure he also knows a comment like that could potentially penalize my mother. To me, however, the actions of the student are secondary to the actions of the administration. Even after the two principals discouraged my mother from taking an action that she is well within her rights to take (asking that he be removed from her classroom), it was only when she brought up the fact that it was harrassment that anything at all was done about it. My mother is in no way litigious, nor is she trying to retaliate against this kid. She simply wanted her very real fears and concerns to be addressed and validated.

What disturbs me the most is that my mother, an extremely independent woman, was made to feel foolish by these two men after already feeling wronged by this male student.

UPDATE: The student was removed from her classroom and will be dealt with accordingly. In other news, Mom is looking for a job!

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