Thursday, July 31, 2008

Why He Quit

Here's an essay from a psychologist in my district - or should I say my FORMER district?? - outlining why he quit. It is an interesting perspective and sadly, I can't say that he's wrong. His last example actually reminds me of an experience I had. I may have shared about this, but here it is again, briefly.

I had a student, we'll call her "Denise." Denise has some traumatic experiences around abuse when she was an infant. The abuser - her biological father - is in prison and no longer in her life. She, along with her twin sister, who was not abused, is being raised by her mother and loving stepfather. Denise is a sweet child who has some learning disabilities and extreme anger issues when she gets frustrated. For example, if she can't understand something, she might pull every one of the 400 plus books in the classroom off the bookshelf and throw them across the room, grab scissors and stab the white board, rip papers up, and overturn desks. Her behavior was such that we had a meeting very quickly and, since her parents were in complete agreement about Denise needing a different environment, called in the district special education specialist.

Before meeting with the specialist, I was called into the principal's office - a principal who was not generally a bad one - and told that we would be asked some questions. It was all very strange and I would love for someone to shed light on this if it makes sense (Debbie?), but I was told that the principal and I would both be asked if we thought that Denise's emotional problems led to her acting out and her problems with learning. The principal told me that our only option was to say no, that we thought they were totally unrelated. I disagreed and told her so and got something about "district services" and was told again to say no.

I don't really know what that meant, but my guess is that if the child was not responsible for her behavior because of emotional problems, that the district would have to provide services, while if she was responsible, we could just blame the parents and move one. Again, I'd love it if anyone could clear that up.

We had the meeting, with the awful, awful special education woman who was rude, overbearing, and elitist, blaming Denise's mother, who sobbed through the whole meeting. Did I mention that this mother was one of the few mothers I've met with who took responsibility for her child and didn't just deny that there was a problem? She said that she's been wanting help for her daughter for years and she just didn't know how to go about it. Instead of giving her help, the special ed woman just made her feel bad with her condescending ways and flat-out blame.

When it came time for the questions, the principal said that no, she did not think that Denise's emotional problems related to her problems at school. The woman wrote that down and turned to me. I said that I disagreed and that I thought her problem at school had everything to do with her emotional problems. I was asked to restate that. I did. Everyone looked at me and the principal argued. I restated again. The special ed woman dealt with this treachery by being even meaner to the mother who had to leave because she was so upset. I was reprimanded, but - since I already had tenure - couldn't be fired.

The child was placed in a counseling-enriched small special day class where she needed to be and has a full-time aide.

The special ed woman is no longer in the district, the principal has changed schools and I have left.

This is one of the situations that I really, really wish I had videotaped.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My Time With the Three Year Olds

I recently had the opportunity to spend time with some foster kids. A couple at my church is doing a foster to adopt program and got three year old twins. I am super excited because this is what I'd like to do someday and because they are really, really awesome kids. The photo at the bottom are of the three year olds' rendition of my dog Solomon, on Post-it notes.

I have always wished that more people would adopt. I understand that people want their "own" kids - actually, scratch that, I don't understand at all. I don't get the biological child thing (and I know, I know, I'm the minority here). I think that kids are kids and if there are kids without homes, we should be taking care of them before having our own. I am not forcing that view on anyone, but it would be my ideal world.

Especially for Christians. When talking about Christian values, there is one message that is throughout the Old and New Testament - all over the place. Take care of the poor and the orphans. Help the fatherless. Do not oppress. Help the oppressed. Help the poor. Help those in prison. Look out for the orphans. A woman from Africa (I think Uganda but I may be wrong) spoke at my church last year and said that with Christians in the world, there is no excuse for orphanages. I think she's right. Forget fighting gay marriage, forget legislating "morals," forget what have traditionally been called "family values." I think it's pretty clear that God has caring for the kids who need caring for right up at the top of his list of family values.

Anyway, that is one reason I was excited about meeting these kids. It's hard to get people to adopt kids who are not newborns. If they can't have their own kids, they want newborns. After kids are walking and talking, they're probably not going to get a family, and that is absolutely not the way it should be. One of these days - preferably if I get married - I would really like to adopt kids who don't have a chance of having a family. Kids that are too messed up because they're already old enough to be bitter and hurt. Kids who everyone dismisses, saying it's too late for them. I wish more people were willing to take those kids.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Back From Vacation

The blog will come back as soon as I recover from going to Louisiana, Colorado, and Seattle in three weeks. (When I scheduled the trips they did not seem so close together!)

So, if you'd like some entertainment until I get un-discombobulated, here are photos of the trips.

Louisiana and more Louisiana, Colorado, and Seattle.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Separation Forms

I have already filled out my separation forms and am now "divorced" from the district, I suppose. They paid me for some of my sick days - it's either 1/3 or 2/3 of what you'd get for a day's pay when you cash out sick days, I forget which (But I think it's 1/3 - that's why I tried so hard to use them up!) In their infinite wisdom, the payroll people sent the check to my old school, where I have not worked since June 2007. Luckily, a teacher called me to let me know it was there.

A friend of mine, who is just now separating from the district, went to the district office to ask about this. The person she spoke with told her that she doesn't get paid at all for the sick days she doesn't use. That they "stay with the district." (Are they an actual physical commodity that the district is trying to stockpile?) I guess he just didn't know the answer, so it was easier to make something up than find out for certain. Dumb.