Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Education, Survivor, and Hamburgers

I think Amanda was the first to point out the recent abuse of a Kindergarten student in Port St. Lucie, Florida. And many others have since weighed in (scroll down the linked blog for a list of other posts).

I would imagine the vast majority of those who read this blog have already heard about this, where a Kindergarten teacher thought it thoroughly appropriate to have a 5 year old student stand in front of the class while his classmates were instructed to tell him what they didn't like about him. The teacher then thought it would be a good idea to have his classmates vote on whether he should be allowed to stay in the class or not.

They voted him out, by a vote of 14-2, in a move reminiscent of the American TV show, Survivor.

The vast majority of blogging on this that I have seen quite rightly call for the "teacher", Wendy Portillo, to be fired immediately.

Bev has kindly posted some contact info for key people that we can register our (polite) displeasure with.

I especially enjoyed Shawn's post at Along The Spectrum as he detailed how although Portillo's actions were especially egregious, that there was blame enough to go around to the whole system that allowed this to happen.

It has been recognized that teachers are sometimes bullies. Some teachers bully because they are sadistic, and some because they were once bullied themselves.

Bullying isn't only something that happens in schools. Increasingly aggressive managers in the workplace sometimes bully their employees, in a style of management referred to as "Hamburger Management". In this form of management, competition is stressed amongst workers, with workers constantly encouraged to be better than their co-workers, and be "winners".

While bullying in the workplace is also wrong, at least the ones being bullied are presumably adults and have the possibility of leaving to find work elsewhere. Often when pupils in schools report bullying, they are not believed, the bullying continues and often gets worse, and they can suffer long term mental health consequences.

Once again, I encourage everyone to go to Bev's blog for a list of the people you can (politely) contact to let them know that such situations are unacceptable.


Bonnie said...

This is why I stray away from regular ed fully for my son! What a whack job this teacher is. Thanks for supply resources to share our thoughts with, I am surely going to do so.

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Hopefully this teacher will have the school board "vote" to see whether she can keep her job LOL!

I'm sad to say that abuse of all disabled/ differently abled/ whatever kids is probably more the norm than we'd like to imagine. How many stories are we NOT hearing??

Thanks for blogging on this issue as well. We all need to speak out on this as well as use our voting power whenever we can.

Anonymous said...

I thought about posting on this topic but so many others have done so quite well. Also, it is important to realize that a full investigation needs to take place. Many lives are ruined from situations that get way out of hand and it is hard to know what is true and what is not. I will wait to speak until after the investigation.

I have had the unfortunate experience of being bullied in the workplace and it was a living nightmare. I can not imagine what children go through and yet I have memories of teachers doing terrible things to children without special needs and children with special needs. So, to some degree this story does not surprise me. I am glad the mother spoke up. Parents would be shocked at how much goes on that is unreported. One reason visting your child's school and observing regularly is so important.

Club 166 said...

Thanks all for the comments.

I also considered not commenting on this because everyone else already had, and that the investigation wasn't done yet.

But then I decided that:

a) The more sun that shines on this, the better, and

b) Portillo already confirmed the basic facts of this to the mother. Unless the mother is making this all up (which I think would have been alleged within 24 hours if that was the case) then as the lawyers say "res ipsi loquitor".


Daisy said...

This is so sad. Some teachers become bullies because they have no support from administration or because they have very little training in inclusion. I feel for Alex -- and his family.