She did WHAT?????????????

After much thought about the events of the past few days Husband and I decided in the end that it wouldbe better for Son if we kept  him in his class until the end of  the year.

So, this morning I brought him to school. The administrator was not on site, so I walked Son directly to his class.    I asked his teacher if she’d heard what happened and she didn’t want to talk about it – referred me to the office.  That was fine because I didn’t want to talk about it with her, either.  I just wanted to make sure she knew so that when I told her what a good  teacher she is and  how much I appreciate her, and specifically the way she handles the difficult child in her own class, she wouldn’t just dismiss it as a platitude.

We both got tears in our eyes, and as I started to walk away another mother asked what I was referring to.  So I told her.  And she told me about other things she’s seen this offensive teacher and others at the school do that disturbed her, and we discussed how lucky that our kids had the great teacher they have.

We continued to talk in the parking lot when the offending teacher from Monday approached me and said, “Hey, you’ve caused me a LOT of trouble.”

Alarmed, I still could not stop myself from retorting, “I caused trouble?  No, YOU caused the trouble.”

She kept approaching, accusing me of  “spreading rumors” to the other parents and making her and the school look bad.  “I told what I saw.  That’s not spreading rumors.  And there were three other women who witnessed what I did.”

When she  started to get in my face, talking about how I didn’t see what led up to what I saw and that I had no right to interfere or tell her what she did was “cruel,”  I  walked a few feet away and said, “I have nothing to say to you. ”

She then proceeded to tell her story to the three other parents standing with or near us.  About how she and the child’s mother were “like this” as she crossed her fingers, about how what she did “was cruel but his mother agrees about the way to handle him”.  About how everyone looked at the video and said she was justified.

Funny she never mentioned what the  administrator told me – that she admitted that she was wrong and was told never, ever to hold the door preventing a child from entering.

I stood there not saying much of anything – though doing a few eyerolls as she painted herself in the best possible light.  She said quite a bit, about how much she has studied and suffered and worked to become a teacher, and why would she do that if she didn’t care?  That is really a very good  question.

And about how she is a mother herself to a one year-old who acts out and she has to discipline him, and how she’s not putting up with anything like that.  Gee, that’s a big old surprise, isn’t it?

And what really got me was that two of the  parents thought I should not have intervened – that the teacher is the one trained and we should trust her judgment, and if  “people  thought they were perfect they can take their kids elsewhere”.

Yes, next time I see your child on fire I’ll go to the office first to have them determine whether or not it’s a justified fire…

I do support teachers.  Son has been disciplined  at school three times this year, and I completely supported the appropriate measures his teacher chose to take.

But there’s a difference.  A biiiiiiiiiiiiig difference.

I’m just disgusted.

So I called Husband and we agreed to remove Son from the school.   He’s very angry that I was confronted by this teacher and insists on accompanying me to complete the withdrawal, and despite his reluctance yesterday he wants to report the entire incident to the authorities.

I certainly don’t need teachers confronting me, and even if I am the only person in Florida that thinks this was inappropriate, cruel and uncalled for – no matter what the child did – then I’m really okay with that.  And it’s obviously not the place for Son.

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

Yesterday I saw a teacher at Son’s school do something I consider to be truly awful.  This teacher locked a three year-old child out of her class as a form of discipline, leaving the child sobbing and me livid.

I did speak to the administrator yesterday afternoon.  She agreed that the teacher made an error in judgment and told me the teacher promised not to do this again.  She then proceeded to explain to me that the teacher often had unruly children walk out of the room and come back in when they were ready to be “a new John”.

As if that’s appropriate either.

Perhaps it’s me that’s crazy.  Granted, I don’t know the first  thing about early childhood education.  But in my thinking you don’t ever have a child leave a schoolroom as a disciplinary measure, especially a pre-schooler.  How this could not be against the state rules is beyond me.  It’s one thing for a parent to have a child leave the  room within their own home.  School ain’t  home.

And to me the whole concept of asking a three year-old to come back as a “new” version of themselves is a very poor redirection indeed.  Three year-old children need specific instruction – “be a calm John”, or “be a listening Suzie”.  A three year-old cannot possibly fathom what it means to be a “new” them.

For some reason this administrator feels there is nothing wrong with the way this teacher handles this often-challenging child other than the fact that she locked the child out of the room.   I don’t profess to know the best way to handle a child with frequent behavior challenges, but there is such a child in Son’s class and Son’s teacher handles this child beautifully, always staying calm and giving the boy appropriate guidance.   And positive attention.

The administrator said the parent was going to be notified, but I’m completely positive that the whole incident will be whitewashed.  I’m fairly certain that the administrator didn’t tell the parents that their son was inconsolable, crying hysterically.  And honestly I’m more angry about the damage too the boy’s psyche.  I’d not be surprised if he remembers that incident for the rest of his life.  I know I will.

As you can imagine, this conversation with the administrator did not go well.  This isn’t  surprising, considering this is the woman who still thinks one child biting another is an “accident”.  Her defense of this poor excuse for a teacher (and the fact that this is a very …hormonal… time for me) had me absolutely incensed on the phone, talking about calling the state and considering pulling my son from the school.   I’d already planned to keep Son home today (we had a planned toured of the school where he will start kindergarten this August), and I have spent a lot of time today discussing this with Husband.

If this was Son’s teacher there is no doubt that I would have pulled him out of the school immediately.  No doubt.  At all.  Immediately.  Never to return.

However.

Son has a different teacher.  A good teacher.  He is thriving in her classroom and with less than three months to go he is learning so much.  His teacher – a first year teacher – is committed and excited and steady and thrilled to see the progress her students are making.  The children love her – and  they respect her.

Do I pull Son out of a great class because the school and it’s other teachers are lacking?

This is what I need to decide.  Soon.

Who’s Watching Your Children?

I’ve had a few issues here and there with Son’s schools, but most of the issues have been dealt with and we’ve moved forward.   I very much like Son’s teacher, as she is committed and engaged with the children and just the perfect amount of strict to keep Son on task.

After all, having a good teacher can make up for lots of poor administration issues.  Heaven help us all if Son ever gets a poor teacher, no matter how good the school is rumored to be.  I’ve noticed a few other teachers at this school that I’d not be happy with, and it has made me wonder about the availability of good employees, the level of  supervision by the administration and the involvement of the parents.  Do they know ???

There is one teacher in particular who has always concerned me.  I walk by her class every day, as her class is the only one directly off the lobby.  She always looks bored, disinterested.  As if she’d much rather be watching Jerry Springer.   She either has the kids watching a DVD, or she’s just sitting there staring off into space while the children (three year-olds) play on the computer.  I shake my head and walk on,  and get involved with what’s going on in Son’s  class.

Today when I was dropping Son off at school there was a little boy clutching his mother and sobbing.  The mother was dressed for work, tears in her own eyes as she tried to calm her son.  He just didn’t want to be at school today.   We all threw sympathetic looks at her, and I did a silent prayer thanking G-d that I didn’t have to put Son in daycare – that school is a choice for us.  The mother led her son into that class – the only one right off the lobby – and I left before she came out.

I came to pick up Son three  hours later, Nana in tow.  I’d just picked her up from the airport and she got a welcome every Nana wishes for when Son raced into her arms.  We were on our way out when I saw a boy, alone and  sobbing, trying to open a classroom door from the outside while pleading, “Let me in!”  He was trying to turn the knob, but the teacher – the same teacher I said always looks bored and disinterested – had her back to him and was not letting the boy in.  I glanced at the other mothers in the area and they all looked disturbed, and I walked over to that boy and put my arm around him and knocked on the door.

She opened the door and said, “He’s okay.”  Furious, I said, “No, he’s not.  You can’t leave him out here! It’s  cruel!  Let.  Him. In.”   She pulled him into the room while trying to reassure me.

“It’s okay,” she said,  “We do this every day.”

I was apoplectic with fury and disbelief at this point.  Talk about inappropriate punishment!  He was ALONE outside the classroom!!! Being excluded.  Crying.  I know, I don’t have to explain it to YOU…

I walked (stalked, really) over to the reception area, where the attendant (the owner’s daughter) was trying to explain school enrollment to a woman who was considering enrolling her child.  I interrupted to tell the attendant what was happening, and she  excused herself from the prospective customer and immediately went to “handle it”.

I plan to talk to the owner about the incident tomorrow.  The more I think about it the angrier I become.  In my opinion this is cause for termination.  I certainly hope that they will notify the parent of this incident, and if they don’t I’m seriously considering telling the parent myself.

That woman should not be permitted to work with children.  She compromised that child’s physical safety, and his psyche.  Add that to her general attitude of disinterest, and I’m thinking that perhaps she should just get a job where she can do no harm.  Perhaps a cemetery groundskeeper.  Or a port-a-potty cleaner.

It didn’t occur to me until I got home that this could have been the same boy that was crying this  morning.   I was honestly so horrified that I can’t recall.  But no wonder that kid didn’t want to enter that classroom.

No wonder.

When Enough is Enough

Right now I’m pretty ripped.

My son goes to preschool twice per week. There’s a lot of things I like about his school. It has an actual curriculum, designed by the woman who started (and still owns) the school thirty years ago. The curriculum is good, so good that it has been purchased by many other schools around the country.

The teachers are good with the children. The head teacher in each class has a degree in Early Childhood Education. They care about the kids. They’re not afraid to deal with issues (potty training, defiance, tempers, etc.).

They’re just not great at administration. The owner semi-retired and moved to another state, leaving the school in the hands of a full-time director. The director, a former teacher at the school, is a lovely woman who cares very much about the kids.

She’s just a lousy administrator.

My son has gone to this school for fifteen months now. Since the beginning I’ve been aggravated by instance after instance of administrative blunders. Payments not being processed correctly. Phones going unanswered. My son being left in a class that he no longer belonged in because we hadn’t decided if we were going to attend the school the next year. Getting a statement of tuition paid for my taxes last year that wasn’t scribbled in pencil on a piece of paper and actually on some type of letterhead was a three-try challenge.

I’ve also always felt that there’s not enough communication between teachers and parents so that we could reinforce what’s being taught in school. No progress charts or any real feedback, unless there’s been an issue. True, they do display the letter of the week and the unit they’re working on (this week’s was Winter), but often when I come on Tuesday the board has yet to be updated. I’ve asked to get the lyrics to songs learned there so we can sing them at home. I’ve asked for an outline of the unit so I can talk to him about the things he’s learning, instead of waiting for something to randomly pop up in a three-year-old’s version of conversation, if it ever does. They look at me as if no one has ever asked for such a thing before. And I’m still waiting.

We were supposed to have parent-teacher conferences in November. They do a limited evaluation and meet with us to discuss where the child is on the basics. The teacher was sick on the scheduled day, so we were told they’d reschedule. Then Thanksgiving came, and Christmas, and no word on conferences. So I asked. Their answer: “Oh, okay. Well, we’re just doing them when the parent asks.”

Really? Isn’t it your responsibility to reschedule all of the conferences as you said you would? Why should we have to chase you?

Then, the next week, Dan started playing show-and-tell at home; pretending to show an item around an imaginary circle of friends. When I asked if they did show-and-tell in his class he said yes.

Really? Gee, I never knew that. No one’s mentioned it to me. I did wonder when they would start that, but assumed it was in the next class as no one had ever mentioned it. Ergo my mistake. Once again, I assumed they were administratively competent. His next school day I asked and was told that yes, they do show-and-tell. Every day, though each child can only participate once per week. Huh.

I walked out of the school really, really pissed because of the accumulation of issues. When they move a child from one class to the next why don’t give out an information sheet outlining what happens in the new class? Really, would that be so hard? I shouldn’t have to ask. I stopped in the parking lot and spoke to a few of the Moms I knew, venting my frustration about the conferences, the show-and-tell incident and other blunders. Their responses shocked me.

“Yeah, I forgot about the conference. It doesn’t really matter anyway. It’s just preschool.”

“Yeah, they’re not great with that stuff. But they’re good with the kids. So you have to make trade-offs.”

“At least they don’t call me for every little thing. Lots of schools just don’t want to deal with anything and will make you go pick up your kid.”

One mother actually got very snotty with me. When I mentioned my idea of a sheet to be handed out to students, she, a public schoolteacher, said it wasn’t the teacher’s (or the administrator’s) responsibility to keep me informed. And she said I should just let them do their jobs. Her attitude left no doubt that I shouldn’t be bothering the teachers or the administrator with such trifling issues.

Really?

Do I really need to make those trade-offs? Is it too much to expect people to be competent, to do what they say they’re going to do?

Are we that apathetic as a culture that we’ll continue to let people slide because it’s easier?

Will I really not be able to find a school for my son where the staff and faculty is effective and competent?

Do these mothers really not care, or are they embarrassed that they’re overlooking these things, too?

I understand that sometimes you have to make trade-offs in life. But sometimes you don’t. Just accepting the status quo serves no one. Including the school.

So, I’m going to start looking for another school. I just don’t think this is the best we can do. Even on our budget.

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