Saturday, September 22, 2007


I never dreamed that this post would cause such a reaction in the blogosphere. To the vast majority who understood and agreed and had other useful positive things to say, I thank you for being a careful reader and for standing up for the good kids of this country who get so little attention. I also would never have supposed that so many people would misinterpret so much of it, in such a way that if I read only certain people's commentary, I'd think I was a terrible person, too. I know it was a long post, but honestly? I don't think some of these people could possibly have read it all, based on their own posts, comments, and emails.

Therefore, I would like to address some of the interpretations people have apparently made about the post, about me, and about other teachers who have agreed with me.

So. . . . some of you would NOT want to sit by me at a teacher's meeting? That's fine. Sit together at a table and shoot disgusted looks at the rest of us. In a few years, you'll understand. Right now, you're still believing what your college textbooks told you, and you haven't had enough experience to know that however idealistic you might be right now, it won't be all that long before a lot of your goals, objectives, ideals, and beliefs will be shot down, too, and you'll realize that in public education (and private education, too, more and more) those who most deserve the bulk of the attention (well-behaved students who WANT to learn) get the least attention, the least resources, and the least rewards. Those of you who have posted, commented, and emailed that I am not interested in low-achieving students, troubled students, and IEP students don't know me very well. Nope, not very well at all.

The thing is, you see, that teaching children to behave in public is actually the job of the home, and when the home doesn't do its job, the teacher is forced to do it, along with his/her actual job, which is to teach children to communicate clearly, to figure things out on one's own, to calculate and to draw and to write and to sing and to play the violin, and to generally take care of oneself so that when the child is grown, he/she will know how to do these things and be a productive, happy, creative citizen who will require his/her own children to buck up and show some spunk, too. To those of you who are horrified that I do not mention the teacher's job of motivating students, I will have only this to say: Motivation is also the job of the home and of the student himself/herself. The teacher can inspire, but one can motivate only oneself.

Because of many homes' refusal to teach simple behavior skills and any desire for learning, teachers have to devote much of the time formerly used for actual teaching, to disciplining, refereeing, first aid, breaking up fights, putting up with talking out, inappropriate language, touching, bullying, stealing, swiping, teasing (which is a kind of bullying, in my opinion) and just generally policing a classroom instead of helping children learn to sing, draw, paint, play, write, communicate, figure, debate, organize, and safely think out of the box. Really? Anything the students and the teacher are required to "put up with" that holds the majority of the class back, should not be there.

I believe that any behaviors that hinder a class's ability to relax, smile, learn, demonstrate learning, leave their property unguarded, go to the restroom without fear, concentrate, hear what's going on, continually move up up up, and be able to experience a positive learning environment free of disruption, should not be allowed under any circumstances.

Those misinterpretive readers who believe I hate special education students should really go back and re-read the original post. Every student deserves to be in his/her least restrictive environment, AS LONG AS his/her presence there does not subtract from the quality of education the other students deserve. Whether labeled such or not, I believe that every student is a special student, and they all deserve the least restrictive educational environment. If achieving that means some students have to be removed, so be it. Nobody has the right to hold someone else back.

My sister, my own kids, and I all spent a great part of our elementary years sitting out in the hallway tutoring other kids. Sure, this was a great way to teach various skills to both sides, but DAILY? All of our students should have the right to move upward and forward, not sit patiently for six years, waiting for a handful of kids to 'catch up.'

I've posted before about the woman from the State Department who came to my middle school to teach us about inclusion.

"When you're teaching the majority of your class how to measure a triangle, you can, at the same time, teach the included students what a triangle IS."

My question? "When?" Do I tell 36 students to get busy on that worksheet while I give one-on-one attention to one or two students, who actually need me for the full period? If anyone has an answer, I'd love to hear it, because I never did figure out how to give a couple of kids one-on-one attention in a classroom of nearly forty students, ALL of whom deserved one-on-one attention but didn't get it because they were all on question 24 while that handful was still working on the instructions and hadn't even started yet. And then the bell would ring and it would all begin again. Times six periods a day.

Let the aide do that? What aide? I did have an aide for 20 minutes a day one year, but she knew nothing about Language Arts and could not help her students.

Those of you who will read this and insist that I hate special students and am making fun of them, please read carefully. ALL students deserve the best, but sometimes, certain combinations will only ascertain that nobody gets what they deserve.

And all disruptive students are NOT special students. I can't believe some of you made that assumption from the original post. In fact, I'd venture to say that most disruptive students are NOT paperworked special students, but merely undisciplined, selfish, brats.

Yes, some kids are brats. Live with it. And oh, I can get meaner than that, too. I believe that, after a certain age, most brats are brats by choice.

And why, you might ask in wide-eyed innocence, would any child choose to be a brat? Probably because such behaviors are enabled at home, and it often brings rewards.

Any parent who storms the school on a regular basis probably has a brat for a kid. Any parent who automatically believes any story his/her kid tells without first checking it out with the school, probably has a brat for a kid. Any parent who insists on exceptions for his/her child, probably has a brat for a kid. Aggressive, sexist, racist parents often have a brat for a kid because the parents themselves are brats. A parent who consistently steps between his/her child and the consequences of the child's actions probably has a brat for a kid. Kids who come to school reeking of smoke are often brats, because such parents don't usually bother much with schoolin'.

If I had read my own original post when I first started teaching, I would have been horrified. I would not have believed most of it. I would have instantly labeled anyone who wrote such a thing a dried-up kid-hatin' prune who should have retired long ago. Sometimes it takes a little experience to realize that in education, in our classrooms, we get what we get, and we have to put up with things we shouldn't have to put up with, and that it is the good kids who pay the price.

The good kids pay the price. And these are the kids above all others who most deserve the best we have to offer. Yes, they all deserve the best, but shouldn't nice people get it before the naughty people? So often, after the bad kids are taken care of, there is nothing left for the good kids. This is a tragedy. The good kids deserve much more than they're getting.

And we're too busy staving off the disruptions to even see the good kids, sometimes.

Bottom line:

No matter what kind of disability any student might have, he/she should be welcome in any classroom as long as he/she was able to follow the same behavior rules as everyone else, and could understand what was going on, and did not hold the rest of the class back.

I could deal with slow kids. I could accommodate almost any kind of disability. I loved my students, and I loved helping them learn. Most teachers feel the same way.

I did not love having to stand there and watch so many of them be held back by factors that should never have been in the classroom in the first place.

Back in the olden days, disruptive school-hating kids were allowed to drop out, and go to work. It's too bad we don't have some kind of program for that now. School was meant for everyone, but not everyone was meant for school. And that has nothing whatsoever to do with 'education.'

Please, 'those' readers, learn the difference between a rowdy, disruptive kid who has no intention of learning anything and won't let YOUR child learn, either, and a child who has disabilities that make learning difficult. NOT THE SAME THING.

As for the majority of you, I thank you for your support. Your children are lucky to have you. And so am I. And so are our schools.

Bottom line number two: Perhaps more people should learn to read carefully, and think before they make false assumptions.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:01 PM | |


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