But while one could certainly have a great time visiting Florida with one's kids, it increasingly seems that Florida is not a place one would choose to live with their kids anytime soon. It would seem that Florida may soon have to change their motto from "The Sunshine State" to the "We Hate Kids" state.
Christschool the other day had a great post about the Alex Barton/Portillo case that brought up issues such as the increasing use of police to handle routine school discipline problems, possible inappropriate training of such personnel, and teachers' complicity in ostracizing those who are "different" in their classrooms. This last point was also blogged by Joeymom.
As Shawn pointed out recently, there is a whole system that's at fault here, and not just the teacher (which does not absolve the teacher in any way for her part in this).
One does not have to look far to see other instances where very young children's actions in Florida schools are criminalized, rather than being addressed with behavioral intervention plans. Indeed, some see a "school to prison pipeline" that has developed in the Florida education system.
Given the undisputed facts of the Barton case and the general climate of making criminals out of young students with undesirable behaviors in Florida, I have to agree with Christschool in saying "I believe Alex, too".
I'm on the road right now, and visited with my brother and sister-in-law tonight. My SIL works as a "para" in a 2nd grade classroom. I mentioned the facts of the Barton case to her (she had not heard about the case) using a very neutral voice. She was appalled, as are many good teachers who have read about this case. Yes, I realize that most teachers are great, and really work for the good of all of their students. I also realize that most teachers work under conditions that are less than ideal, without proper supports in place. And that puts a great deal of stress on teachers.
I'm waiting for the investigation by the Port St. Lucie school district, but absent some finding (backed up by evidence) that great portions of Barton's account were made up, I believe Alex.
It's time for Florida to get on the stick, and to stick up for all of its students, not just the ones that are compliant. This means not only rightfully having sanctions on the teacher involved in this case (Ms. Portillo), but also examining the whole education process in Florida and the whole problem with criminalizing school behaviors that have no place in the criminal justice system.
Me- Joe, husband of a great wife, and dad to two great kids, who were both adopted at birth.
Liz- My ever understanding wife, who manages to wear many hats (mom, advocate, therapist, teacher) for our kids.
Buddy Boy- Born in 2000. Funny, intelligent, inventive, and autistic. Loves machines.
Sweet Pea- Born in 2002. Typical little sister. Competitive, outgoing, and smart. Loves anything pink.