Tales From A Brown Girl, Traveling The World, Trying to Make Something Beautiful
For the past three years I have been toying with the idea of leaving my job as a student support facilitator and doing something new. When I accepted the job, it was an opportunity to learn a new skill set, get some coaching experience, and work directly with teachers and parents to support students. The job seemed like an excellent starting point for providing a much needed service in schools. The first few years despite the frustration of inconsistent leadership, I respected the work. My belief is that education is a right for all and as educators we owe children the best opportunities to thrive in healthy learning environments. Sounds great, but education isn’t that simple, it’s never has been and unless the ideas of what education is change, the results will continue to be the same.
This might be an unpopular opinion but it’s how I feel. Let counselors provide counseling, the students need that support. Allow more social workers and therapists who specialize in trauma to work in the schools, mental health is a serious need in public education and it seems like everyone is wearing rose colored shades. Shit! The school staff needs counseling most days before they go home to their own families. I know I went home many days drained and sad from seeing the struggles of children whose lives are impacted from events that are completely out of their control.
Being an educator breaks your heart, you have an inside view of the lives of children and the horrors they experience outside of those school house doors, yet no real solutions or treatment can be provided. Yes, things are “suggested” but the root cause that will impact their daily academic progress is never addressed. Most days it’s discussed as a source of gossip, misunderstood, dismissed or, my all time favorite, referred to “special education”. Now I’m not a therapist, but I know that a child that lives in an unstable home comes to school for care, food, and safety. Abuse and molestation aren’t fixed with an IEP, and no child that has attended school from K-12th grade should graduate with a diploma and still not be able to read.
Education isn’t about assessment scores, yes that might piss some people off, but I’m not concerned, what has that child learned and retained? Are we that consumed with numbers and rankings that we simply disregard knowledge retention? So let’s be clear, they passed the state assessment, but again, aren’t proficient in basic skills? We know they struggle, yet that very struggle isn’t addressed or remediated but they are being retained? They have a diagnosed disability but are assessed the same as a child without one that excels. Now I know what you are about to say, they have accommodations, well that’s bullshit because everyone has accommodations. A good teacher knows that most times many children struggle, and they all need additional support. An accommodation is supposed to bridge the gap, well it may for some but for those who are performing several grade levels below their peers, it becomes an additional frustration.
Have you really paid attention to a struggling reader during an assessment? A child in the 7th grade who is looking at a paragraph, with a 2nd grade reading level, tear up because most of the words in front of them are unknown? But they are ok because they have questions read as an accommodation. Explain how reading the question is helpful if they were unable to read the paragraph? Yet this child is supported? Explain how? I’ll wait………
I really love the concept of “if a child can read 1 word, they are a reader and only non readers receive paragraph reading accommodations”. Students transition in from another country who are unable to speak or read English are classified as “non readers” information is read to them, in English. Yes, read that again, they speak or read no English yet they are assessed in English. How many of you have moved across the world and submerged yourself into the culture and educational system of another country without speaking the language? If you did, how would you expect your children to be treated? Yet no compassion is shown in most cases for these children. It may be initially, but the novelty soon disappears.
Let’s not even talk about the misuse of educational resources by those who “know how to work the system”. Yes I said it, you know good and damm well your child didn’t need that IEP or 504 Plan, you did it so they could have extended time on their college entrance exams, you said it out your mouth, just as you returned with the note from the doctor. Your child who attends college classes and maintains a 4.0 GPA with no effort all of a sudden needs “extended time” in the 11th grade without a drop in grades or a change in behavior. Yet its an act of congress to get services for the students who really need them.
You see guys, doctors don’t know anything about how the educational system works, they think if it’s on a “prescription” it can be mandated. It can’t, so please stop running to the pediatrician when a child has a 5 point drop in a grade or you refuse to take their cell phone because they are up all night chatting with their boyfriend and you expect the school to address your lack of ability to be a disciplinarian. Please don’t waste the time of paid professionals who explain a detailed process that requires many steps to simply insult children by saying “oh no my child isn’t dumb, they just need more time”. Well you just walked in here and told me your doctor wrote a prescription for an IEP, the process entails us determining if this child has a “disability” that impacts their educational performance and they require special education support. “Ohhh no that’s not what they really need”. This conversation shall continue!
Drop a comment if you are unnerved! I know I was, each and every time I had to have these conversations.
Let’s connect on social media, you can find my daily thoughts and travels via Instagram and Facebook @unnervedtraveler.