Monday, November 23, 2009
Teacher - No. Bigot - Yes
I went to the movies with Amy Friday night. She and I and about 300 squealing teenage girls watched New Moon. The movie was good but what happened before the movie was more interesting.
We arrived at the theatre almost an hour and a half before the start of the movie. Already a line had formed, and about 50 people stood in line before us. Soon after we joined the line, an older woman and her teenage daughter stepped behind us. The daughter was a whiner extraordinare, and the mother was one of those people who felt compelled to talk to everyone, stranger or not.
It didn’t take long for us to learn that the mother was a special education teacher in an elementary school in our school district. Amy shared that she also taught special ed, but in middle school. The mother immediately said she didn’t know how Amy did it, that the young kids were hard enough.
The woman then shared that she taught in the preschool special education program. In our school district that means that children with all types of special needs would be in her classroom, and all would be under the age of 5, kindergarten age.
We heard how difficult her job was – how tired she was at the end of the day – how ‘handling’ the kids was really tough. Amy commented that she believed in inclusion and that all students should be afforded similar opportunities, not locked away in separate rooms. The woman looked shocked, and said that some of her students would ‘kill’ the ‘regular’ students if they were put together. Again, just for clarification, her students would be age 2.5 to 4 years old.
I said nothing. I had to choose that option because otherwise I would have made quite a scene.
Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows how I feel about labeling students, having low expectations for those students, and especially how I feel about some of the so-called teachers in my school district. I had to keep quiet because otherwise I would have begun a conversation that would have made everyone around us uncomfortable.
I kept my anger at bay, but sadness consumed me – sadness that children at such a young age are already having their futures determined by people who don’t understand, who don’t care, and who, in my opinion, don’t matter. Yet those people have our children in their clutches at least six hours a day, 5 days a week.
Today I am grateful that throughout her educational journey, Ashley has had two people who 'get it' - Amy and Mrs. Marsh