Survivor (Kindergarten edition)

I’ve just found this news item linked to on Trinity’s blog:


After each classmate was allowed to say what they didn’t like about Barton’s 5-year-old son, Alex, his Morningside Elementary teacher said they were going to take a vote, Barton said.
By a 14 to 2 margin, the class voted him out of the class.

Barton said her son is in the process of being diagnosed with Aspberger’s, a type of high-functioning autism. Alex began the testing process in February for an official diagnosis under the suggestion of Morningside Principal Marsha Cully.
Alex has had disciplinary issues because of his disabilities, Barton said. The school and district has met with Barton and her son to create an individual education plan, she said. His teacher, Wendy Portillo, has attended these meetings, she said.

Barton said after the vote, Alex’s teacher asked him how he felt.
“He said, ‘I feel sad,’” she said.

Alex hasn’t been back to school since then, and Barton said he won’t be returning. He starts screaming when she brings him with her to drop off his sibling at school.

Thursday night, his mother heard him saying “I’m not special.”
Barton said Alex is reliving the incident.
They said he was “disgusting” and “annoying,” Barton said.

Wtf. I know that kids in large groups at that age are often little assholes, but here it seems the teacher actually joined in. Having a group of kids individually tell a child why they find him “disgusting” and “annoying” cannot seem to me to be anything other than bullying. I cannot understand what the teacher hoped to gain from conspiring with the other students to publically humiliate him. When I was in primary school the kid we ganged up on was the one who picked his nose. I’m not sure what would have happened if we’d been given the chance to vote him out of the class.

Trinity also links to this excellent post by Amanda. Please read it:

Children aren’t born knowing how to behave towards other children. None of them are, autistic or non-autistic. They have to learn that everyone’s dependent on everyone else, that people aren’t better than others just by being better at something, and that tendencies to do bad things to other people are things we all have to fight, not give in to, if we want society to be remotely just to anyone.
And this teacher is leading these kids in the wrong direction to learn any of those lessons.

5 Comments to “Survivor (Kindergarten edition)”

  1. Oh my god. I have no words. Absolutely no words. As both a teacher and a survivor of bullying, I absolutely cannot fathom what was going through that teacher’s head. I just can’t.

  2. It’s completely baffling, isn’t it? I’ve tried, in the interest of fairness, to imagine a scenario where here influence was meant to be anything but malevolent, and…nothing.

  3. WTF?!! No, seriously, did that teacher have dung for brains or something? I mean, kids might behave like arseholes because they haven’t been taught that it’s wrong, but what happens when you don’t teach them that it’s wrong?

  4. Today’s teachers don’t seem to like real kids. They like kids to be well-behaved cute dolls, adoring fans and really quiet in class. They’d be better off teaching to stuffed toys.

  5. BFH – Yes, apart from the damage done to Alex, think of the lesson the other kids in the class are getting out of this. It’s perfectly okay to gang up and bully one kid in the class, and the authorities will actually encourage it. Honestly, if I had kids (even magic, special, never-targets-of-bullying kids) I wouldn’t want them in this woman’s class.

    Lekhni – Agree – teaching to stuffed toys would certainly be easier. If the only way a teacher can deal with a kid who has issues with discipline (and Alex seems to have far better reasons for this than a lot of children) is publicly humiliating him, she simply should not be teaching, period.

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