A few thoughts
First, I do think it is very important to remember you are talking about little kids. Kids are not always thoughtful about what they are doing, don't always pay attention even if they are told something serious, and often do not consider the consequences of their actions.
You have to realize, with very severe nut allergies, kids can have reactions from just TOUCHING a surface that has been touched with peanuts, and even in some cases from inhaling peanut particles. I don't know if this girl was this bad off, but given that, and the severity of the possible reactions, it simply does not pay to take ANY sort of chance.
As a teacher, I look at it simply like this;
The pros of "no nut snacks" is there is little to no chance of this kid dying in class.
The con is that other kids don't get to eat a nut during snack at school that year.
Personally, there is no other thing to consider there.
About the girls panic attack... honestly, I DO kind of understand. As I said, she is a little kid, and if she knows that roughly two or three feet away from her is something that can kill her, something that she knows to be ESPECIALLY aware of, something she has probably been told MANY times will kill her if she eats it (you have got to make it serious so a kid won't sneak a taste, hoping that "Mom or Dad aren't looking" because they don't quite get it) I think that it actually can be understood. The girl actually excused herself to go to the nurse before falling apart, so I suppose she did sort of restrain herself, but still, no child in a classroom should have to deal with that.
As for using it as a learning experience, I do understand where that comes from, since she will likely be faced with nuts in her life, but again... she is a little kid. The people around her are little kids. There is no parent around. If she is going to learn "life lessons" about peanuts, snack time at school is probably not the time for it.
And Indoor, in a school among children away from their parents and their homes it is very much about group responsibility, and group safety. I firmly believe that, and I have a feeling in this sort of case you probably do too.
And yeah, the main point of the story is the totally inappropriate, selfish reaction of the one father and one mother. It baffles me that any parent with any amount of empathy or understanding would EVER do that.
I really like the tactic of sending an email stating that since Mr. So-and-so feels his son's civil rights are restricted, so we won't have any snacks at all, so as not to violate anyone's civil rights. *evil grin* But that wouldn't be very nice.
Besides, given that lunches can happen at fairly unreasonable times (my kids got to high school at 7:25, and lunch was either at 10:25 when some restaurants in the area were still serving breakfast, or at 12:30, just 2 hours before school let out!!), a snack for youngsters does help keep the kids energized and focused.
If I were the teacher, I'd probably send home an email that goes something like this:
You may remember the email I sent home last week regarding the student with the life-threatening nut allergy. I requested that you provide snacks for your child that have no nuts of any kind, to protect the life of this student. A bag of nuts was sent with a student this morning that caused a severe disruption in class, imperiling the allergic child's life. For this reason, we will no longer allow students to bring in their own snacks.
However, young students learn better with a snack, and all students in the classroom should be able to enjoy snack time together. For this reason, I am asking everyone to send in a box of saltines or a box of cheese crackers. Each child will receive 5 saltines or 3 cheese crackers for a snack. You can continue to send drinks every day with your child.
So that we do not get inundated with snacks, it is suggested that you send in your crackers in the month of your child's birth. If your child was born in August, please send them in this month. July birthdays can bring them in January, and June birthdays can bring them in May (a month early).
Thank you Mr. So-and-so and Mrs. Such-and-such. As you have pointed out, it may violate a child's civil rights to restrict the snacks that children bring. In order not to violate anyone's civil rights and to ensure the health of all students, we will implement the snacks of saltines and cheese crackers immediately.
All kids get equal snacks, nobody is socially isolated, nobody worries about anaphylaxis or other symptoms, and the two parents get the attention (perhaps not quite like they wanted, though!). One large drawback is overzealous, sympathetic families not reading the schedule of when to send in the crackers, resulting in far too many to store!
I'm curious if there have been any further developments in the peanut case. Lord Ash?
Nope, nothing yet!
However, I do have another one...
Remember this story, from the very first post?
So. The parents have fought the school like MAD, getting her out of special ed because they don't want her there. Now she is a mess. I clearly cannot pass her; she barely does ANYTHING, and the work she does is like a first grader... a couple of scrawled words. Now we have reached the point where myself and the other sixth grade teachers are basically gearing up to fight to get the parents to understand she HAS to be classified, for her own good...next year in the middle school she will simply be unable to perform.
And it just stinks, because I know the parents are going to make this a big, messy, time-wasting fight, and maybe try to sue us, and I know the administration does not really want to back the classroom teachers and fight this out because THEY figure it will just cost us money, and they frankly don't care what happens to the kid once they get to middle school if it means avoiding thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars spent, dollars much better spent elsewhere.
And I sit here, and think about all the resources and money and teacher time dedicated to this kid who, frankly, will never really accomplish much, while the gifted and talented program gets gutted...
It is frustrating. There are times I wish (I understand there are big issues with it) that parents had a little LESS control and authority over their own kids and over their schools.
Is there any pressure on her teachers, you included, to pass her when she clearly isn't performing at the required level?
Edit: Pressure from the school/administration, NOT the parents.
Only in that failing her would result in the parents going crazy and would cause problems for the school
LA, I don't want to throw any gasoline on the fire but where is your principal or school superintendent in all this?
Of course, I don't know squat about teaching but if this sad case of a child has been passed for 5-6 years, somebody had to approve grade advancements? Is there no one in your district representation with any sense of the waste you are witnessing?
The principal is not really willing to start a long war with parents who have already fought us and cost us money and time in the past. The threat of lawsuits is constant, and with the budget woes we are already facing the district would be in a LOT of trouble with a big law suit. The way they figure is that the only person who will suffer, in the long run, for the parents being idiots is the parents and kid themselves.
It appears that there is no possible way this girl will be put in a situation where she can learn, be productive, and grow intellectually.
In fact, you've stated that even with you focusing on her to do her work "every second" that the work is commensurate with a 6 year old.
Thus, the logical thing to do is make sure that the situation doesn't impact the other kids in the class - and don't spend any more extra time with her.
Put her in a place where she won't be disruptive, and stop focusing your efforts on making sure she's doing the work.
Her parents CAN'T sue the school for failure to give their special kid extra care because
A) The school already has something for that
B) They refuse to use it
Thus, you get to focus your attention on all your kids, the parents get their child mainstreamed, and there's no fight.
Stinks for the little girl, but the cause is lost anyway. You still have decades of battles left in public schools. Don't bash your head in beating it against the wall on this one.
The parents are to blame. Let them sleep in the bed that they made.
Yeah, but a child like that is so distracting and disruptive in a classroom. The other kids are just that, kids! They might not behave very well if the handicapped girl starts being more uncontrollable.
The best power hand in the situation belongs to other parents of students in that room. But, then again, who's got the time or energy to get them rolling, unless they see the effects on their own children.
Sorry LA, looks like a very long and grueling year for you. Really sorry.
Weez, thankfully she is not disruptive at all. The only big downside is that she simply is not getting the skills she needs, skills she would get in a one on one or small group, specialized setting.
As for not spending time with her, that is unfortunately where we are headed. I simply cannot dedicate such a huge percentage of my time to a student who will not proportionally benefit from it. But that kills me, because I hate seeing a kid sitting there not doing anything.
And unfortunately, the parents CAN sue. They might not WIN, but the resources a lawsuit would tie up are needed elsewhere Often, it isn't the worry of LOSING a lawsuit; it is simply a lawsuit being undertaken!
Thankfully my class is largely bright and kind and responsible, and so far they seem great
Last edited by Lord Ash; 09-27-2010 at 10:13 AM.
I would think that for a teacher, not being able to reach a child has to be extremely difficult. For those moments that you get frustrated by the way this student is being cheated out of the help she needs (due to no fault of your own), please remember the difference you made in so many lives.
Very, very interesting. Schools are an interesting place, because it is very few adults who are not related to the children who are responsible for all of them. It is a place of real group responsibility. Thanks for the article, Lid!
Just an update on my autistic girl; we were reviewing her paperwork, and yikes. I am required to stand beside her to redirect her with non-verbal cues when she goes off topic, to write all directions on the board, review them orally, and write them on her paper, to keep a timer on a nearby desk (but not HER desk) to help her understand how much time she has, check her homework planner and initial assignments to ensure they are written correctly, give her extra time to complete tests and assignments, and move her seat as needed. Yet, there is no problem.
And, if I fail to do this stuff, I can personally be sued for negligence.
I honestly wonder sometimes if parents understand how much of our resources go towards special education or support of students who should be in special ed.
What are the chances you could get extra help in the classroom. Due to budget constraints, I assume a para-professional is out. Any parent volunteers? Expecially hers?
Have her parents ever observed her in a classroom setting to see how little she gets?
Perhaps the other parents should be encouraged to spend a day in the classroom so they see how much of your attention is taken away from their kids and focused on her. They could try to pressure the young lady's parents to do the right thing for her.