I’ve been gone for the holiday and apparently missed the hubbub about Alex Barton.
For anyone who’s not in the loop on this, here you go: Alex Barton’s story. Basically, a kindergarten teacher played Jeff Probst and let her 16 students vote one of their classmates out of their class–after they each got a chance to openly level ‘charges’ at him, stating to this five-year-old still in diagnostic process for ASD all the things they didn’t like about him.
This is all after he was sent to the principal’s office for appropriate discipline. The teacher, Wendy Portillo, took it on herself to humiliate the child further when he returned, and forced the children to denigrate their fellow student. She admits this happened.
Alex apparently screams now when he thinks he has to go back to school, and he hasn’t returned. Who could blame him?
His mother attempted to file police charges for emotional child abuse, but they were rejected by the state attorney’s office because they didn’t meet the criteria.
All of us with diagnosed children have days when we worry about how our child’s behavior will be viewed by whatever educational institution he or she is assigned to. Granted, we know they don’t always act like everyone else. That’s why we have IEPs and other documents that force the schools to treat our children fairly, taking into account whatever issues they might have.
But the rest of you shouldn’t sit back, complacent, thinking this can’t happen to you. Anyone have a seven-year-old boy? Think about those wild and wacky behaviors and the antics boys en masse can get up to on the playground. Think about the way girls are dressing “sexy” even younger and younger, and how even kindergarteners now have their own “Mean Girls.” Think about children in wheelchairs. Children of Latino heritage. Black children. White children. Children. Children in school to be educated about everything, including the differences among us.
It would be well to remember the words of Pastor Martin Niemoeller, very apropos, here modified by me to provide a jumping off point for discussion:
In our school they first came for the AIDS students,
and I didn’t speak up because I didn’t have AIDS.
Then they came for those on the ASD spectrum,
and I didn’t speak up because I didn’t have autism.
Then they came for the hyperactives and those with bipolar,
and I didn’t speak up because I didn’t need medication to participate.
Then they came for those of different skin color and heritage,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a white student in the majority.
Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
And yet another good take here, on tolerance for teachers who cope with an awful lot on a daily basis.