Got two more winners from the world of education
First up... an autistic girl a grade below the one I teach at. This student is a severe case... she has wet herself in class because she does not understand she has to use the bathroom, does not really have much verbal communication, literally gets up and runs out of the room when she sees kids walking past... she cannot really read or write, and cannot really retain any information beyond a minute or two.
Now, the teachers have LONG maintained she is clearly in the wrong environment. She is not learning any of the basic social skills that she will need going forward in life. She really should be in an autistic program where she gets one on one aid, and help with the skills she needs.
The parents, however, have fought for YEARS to keep her in general ed where they can (she goes to a special ed classroom for reading, writing, and math; there is no special ed for science or social studies, so she comes to class for that) and have sued the school on two occasions to keep her there. Now they are getting upset because she doesn't seem to understand the social studies and science they are doing in class... that she cannot explain how clouds are formed, or how light is refracted, or how the French and Indian War helped cause the American Revolution.
Her teacher is SO frustrated. The teacher has said, a number of times, that OBVIOUSLY she will not be able to do the social studies or science; she cannot read, she cannot focus, she cannot retain... what do they expect? Yet the parents are raising a HUGE stink over this, and so the higher-ups (the caseworker and some others) are coming in and asking questions, and even expressing some surprise at how bad things are... despite the fact that teachers have been saying for YEARS that this student is absolutely and completely in the wrong place. Now, in an attempt to please the parents, they are having the teacher, when she writes notes on the board, ALSO write notes on a single piece of paper, and then stand in front of the girl and, using a piece of paper, to mask all but one word at a time, so that the girl can write them down. Seriously? THIS is a good use of the teachers time? THIS is a good use of the STUDENTS time?! And keep in mind that the parents even fought this at first, because they were afraid that it made the girl "stand out" from her classmates... they wanted some mystical modification that would be unnoticeable. As if all of the other issues she faces don't make her stand out.
And then the parents have complained that the classroom teacher isn't doing enough to help this girl make friends. Uhmmm... there is NOTHING this classroom teacher can do to help that. Nothing. She wets herself, she screams, she jumps up and runs around, she cannot have a conversation... the place she COULD get help with social skills would be an autistic-specialized classroom... which the parents fight against tooth and nail. What on earth are they expecting?
And then another one... my wife, an elementary school counselor, has two young African American boys who have come to her school, a predominantly white, upper upper class school. The boys were removed from their mothers care (drug use) and dad has never been in the picture; they are currently under the care of another family member.
Now, the boys are a MESS. The older of the two (who is about 8) is wild; he curses, hits other kids, runs out of the classroom, and is disrespectful like you wouldn't believe. He speaks often of whores, drugs, sex, and a RAFT of other things no 7 or 8 year old should know about, talks about having seen being doing drugs and fighting and shooting each other, and literally curses every other word. He was taken for an outside psych eval after the caretaker fought it for a YEAR (only a threat of legal action got her to do it) who found that the child was deeply disturbed... I don't remember the term, but my wife said that it was the "youth" version of being a sociopath. His IQ tests down in the low 70s. The younger boy is heading that same way; he assaulted two different children, attacked a teacher, is no longer allowed to use the bathroom alone because he goes on the floor, and curses and behaves in a way that is REALLY having a dramatic impact on the other kids in his class.
BOTH of these boys have had a dramatic impact on the school; the are known by EVERYONE, as they have had run-ins with a wide range of kids, from fistfights with upper grade boys to sexual harassment of second grade girls (I believe the quote was "Yo bit__hes, I'm grabbing your titties!") Other parents have complained (and now some are beginning to threaten legal action) as their eight year olds come home with these bizarre stories and repeating some of the HORRIBLE language that they are learning.
This entire time the family member who is in charge of them has FOUGHT... TOOTH AND NAIL... to have ANYTHING done. She has claimed the school and the district are just being racist, that it is picking on them just because they are black, that they simply don't know how to treat a black child... and now, at the meeting where after a year of my wifes work the family member FINALLY came in to (apparently) sign the paperwork to get them classified as special ed so they can get some serious, individual attention and help... nope, instead she informs the school she has hired a lawyer and is suing the district for racial discrimination. Which will, of course, cost the district (which just cut all sports and art programs in the middle school and made the high school sports a pay-to-play program, and went through MASSIVE layoffs) even more money.
Two perfect, and common, examples of waste. Two examples of parents/adults (who obviously SHOULD have a lot of say in their childrens' educations) simply making the job of the schools impossible, of expecting more than can possibly be given. So many issues, from parents and even from administrators in the schools themselves. It is so very frustrating.
It sounds strange, but I hope these stories help folks who otherwise have no exposure to this stuff understand why schools struggle often SO mightily. These are just random snippets of stories the likes of which happen CONSTANTLY, in every school.