Final Straw

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I had resigned myself to living with that awful teacher for 2 years by the end of last year. My only hope was that she was smart enough to NOT harass my kid, given that I had no problem rolling into the principals office, the school board, the parent representatives, the Education professors at McGill or You, the internets to voice my concerns.

Of course, she just HAD to shot one across my bow with the "Only Child" comment. She just H-A-D to do it.  Couldn't help herself.

Ok. I will let that one go. Chalk it up simply to her being the incredibly miserable human being that I know her to be.

But it was when Emily came home the following week and shared with me the way this hag decided to completely humiliate a boy in front of the rest of the class, that was when the final straw was placed.

Em's school has uniforms. No big deal, white shirts with the crest and navy blue pants. The shirts run between 22 and 30 dollars a shirt. Which isn't a huge deal...except when you have a crazy growing kid, OR one who is especially hard on clothes OR one of the billion other weird and unexpected scenarios that any parent has come to understand as Shit Happening.

While this is a public school and we are in a solidly upper middle class neighborhood, the school attracts children from a variety of backgrounds and socio-economic strata. Which we like. If we wanted Emily to be surrounded by  a homogeneous group, she would go to one of Montreal's MANY private schools.

Now, I know this little boy. He is, in fact, a bit of a hellion. I have watched him since he was in kindergarten in this school and he has remained a bit of a rambunctious badass boy. It doesn't help matters that he is TALL. As in "looked like he might be 11 when he was 5" Tall. So you have a boy who has always looked like he was MUCH older acting like a normal boy of his age, but drawing attention because he looks like he is old enough to know better.

He is the oldest of three children. His family is not one of the ones who lives in one of the big houses around the park, but I see his mom walking he and his sisters to and from school nearly everyday.

So what was this boys great crime? His mother, in what I can only guess was an attempt to stretch the money spent on uniforms, cut the crest off of an old shirt and sewed it onto a plain white shirt.

Mrs X felt the need to bring that to the attention of the class.

"J", she called out, "Why aren't you in your uniform?"

The boy, according to Emily looked a bit confused. He was IN the white shirt and blue pants like all the other Cycle Three kids. He responded that he WAS in his uniform. Mrs X was not satisfied.

"That isn't the correct Uniform, J. Do you not HAVE an official uniform?"

The boy remained perplexed.  Mrs X circles in for her kill.

"YOUR shirt has the crest on the RIGHT side of your shirt. The official uniforms have the crests on the LEFT Side of your shirt - did you not notice that?"

According to Emily, this is when J - and the rest of the class - figured out what was happening.  The boy does his best to refute the teacher, "My mom must have sewed it on the wrong side...."

Mrs X isn't done. "Yes she did!  You need to tell her to put it on the left side of the shirt so it will be a proper uniform shirt. She needs to correct her mistake...."

The boy, according to Emily, simply doesn't respond. Mrs X lets it linger and moves on to whatever new torture she is devising for her students.

When Emily tells me this as she debriefs her day, I fight the urge to either burst into Tears, or run into the school and punch this bitch directly in the face.  I am somewhat speechless as I look at my daughter. My kind and compassionate child who would never have known that J's shirts were not "correct" had it not been announced by this sorry excuse for a human being.  I ask her what J did afterwards. She shrugs.


I didn't sleep that night. I also didn't tell Terrance about it. I just lay in bed thinking and thinking and thinking about what I could do - what I was supposed to do - what I had a responsibility to do. To tell you all that I literally lay awake with this chewing at my guts is in no way an understatement. People who bully children based on Financial status? On the actions of their parents?

I simply can not abide it.  Simply Can Not.

By the morning, I was ready to tell Terrance. His reaction was similar to mine.  The phrase "I am going to go kick this fat bitch in the ass" may have been uttered by Him. While he continued to digest the horribleness of the action, I had already decided I needed to go in and speak to the new principal.  No matter that the action was not directed at my child, I had an ethical obligation as an educator, as a Mom, as a human being to speak up about this.

So I did. I told the new principal everything. I gave her the card for my blog and encouraged her to read the stories about this teacher. To ask other parents who have suffered through this sadist's reign of terror over their children. I explained that Terrance and I had both worked for most of our professional careers for equity  in educational opportunities for ALL children, but particularly children from low income families.

I told her that No child - NO CHILD - should be made to feel less than anyone else because of a SHIRT.  That if the teacher had a true concern, she could have written a note in the agenda to the mother rather than draw the whole classes attention to this Boy and his shirt.

And Finally I said: "We want Emily out of that classroom."

11 Baleful Regards:

jwg said...

Good for you. Maybe the new principal will have more courage than the old one, and move the bitch to counting textbooks in a closet somewhere.

SUEB0B said...

When I read that last line, I wanted to stand up and cheer!! I just wish that woman weren't a teacher at all.

Gurukarm (@karma_musings) said...

Yes - what Suebob said. Moving Emily out of that classroom protects her; moving that not-teacher (she doesn't deserve the title!) out of the school/job protects Emily, J, and all the other kids, current and future... Any chance? Go Mom!!

Nat said...

We had an issue last year, and unfortunately I didn't realize how bad it was until late in the school year. (New thing in my house, is to TALK to the boy.) I only realized it this year, when all of a sudden The Boy wants to go to school. "Miss Kim is awesome. And Mme Alexandra too." He's excited, hadn't realized how bad it was until then.

All to say you did the right thing.

Mary_Flashlight said...

Good for you. And thank god for people like you willing to stand up to bullies.

Unknown said...

You are absolutely correct on this issue and I'm so glad you went to bat for that poor boy and your daughter.

I have no tolerance for bullying and it's worse if the person doing it is in a position of authority. I mean, how small do you have to be - small, as in small spirited, small brain, etc. Makes me very, very sad for all of her students over the years.

Dawn said...

You know, I had mixed feelings about asking for Em to be moved. On one hand...I felt like I was giving up, if that even makes any sense. I felt like this bitch had beaten me. I worried about WHO would keep pressure on her, who would witness to her crazy bullshit.

In the end, I had to concede that Emily needed to be moved. I have done all I can, and I can not allow this woman to pollute the water my child is swimming in, or to kill her desire and enthusiasm for learning.

But it was Hard.

oshee said...

My first thought when I read this post was that asking to have your daughter moved had to be the most difficult thing for you. I admire your ability to be an advocate for all children.

I hope things improve.

Ginnysicle said...

I just had a conversation today about how someone I work with professionally humiliated a parent because they couldn't afford to do the "best" possible thing for their child, and how I can't imagine anything crueler than humiliating a parent because they can't provide something for their kid. My heart hurts for that boy, but it BREAKS for his parents. She was trying to do the best she could, and her child gets humiliated for her mistake? I can only imagine how awful that made her feel, if her son even told her. That woman not only doesn't deserve to be a teacher, she just doesn't deserve to be called a human being.

Kikilia said...

Good for you Dawn!

As a teacher myself- I'd like to slap that woman senseless too. How dare she treat kids that way?

How did the principal respond to your meeting?

On my end- it's the new principal causing troubles this year. It's going to be a long year (the last for my daughter at this school).

I really wish that folks with no interest in educating children would stay out of education.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being such an ally to children--even those you did not personally produce. I still remember every cruel thing a teacher ever said to me--and I'm almost 40. I can't help but wonder how different my life might have been if someone like you had been willing to swoop in and demand that that kind of unqualified bull**** STOP RIGHT NOW. No child deserves to be treated as less than--for any reason. And my eyes are shining with pride and admiration at you for standing up to this boil on the butt of humanity. Kudos, Dawn. You are my hero.

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