I try not to pick on schools, but with the almost constant inclusion of ‘the s-word’ in most mainstream articles about homeschooling, I am amazed at the seemingly willful blindness of what I’ve heard (with my ears) referred to as ‘knocking the corners off’ kids, ie, socialization in school. Homeschoolers are asked whether their children will be ‘properly socialized.’ If this incident is an example, who the heck wants them to be ‘properly socialized?’
Students vote autistic 5-year-old out of class, 27 May 2008, ParentDish.com
It sounds like somebody has been watching too many reality shows. Namely, Wendy Portillo, a teacher at Morningside Elementary in Port St. Lucie, Florida. She turned her kindergarten classroom into a cruel version of Survivor by allowing her students to vote a fellow student out of the class.
After returning to Ms. Portillo’s classroom after a recent visit with the principal, his teacher decided to punish him with humiliation. She had Alex stand at the front of the class while his fellow students listed off what they didn’t like about him. After informing him that they found him “disgusting” and “annoying”, the class was instructed to vote on whether or not Alex should be allowed to stay in the class. By a 14 to 2 margin, they voted him out.
Video interview with Alex Barton’s mother.
The state attorney found that there was no evidence of emotional abuse.
I wonder if the teacher is as unaffected by the response to her actions as she expected a child to be?
There are, of course, other aspects to this incident.
- Whose education is paramount? A group’s, or an individual’s?
- Is classroom disruption a new ‘normal?’
- How can special needs children with behavioral difficulties be best helped while respecting the needs of their classmates?
- Is teacher attitude towards difficult behavior more of a factor than the behavior itself?
- Does the inclusion of special needs children in classrooms after the adequate education of classmates and staff, provide daily instruction in empathy, politeness, and helpfulness for all classmates?
It is one thing to give a child with special needs a normal environment. It is another thing to expect the child’s behavior to not be a difficulty without adequate education of staff and classmates. Until large organizations get ‘socialization’ to equal ‘civilization,’ many parents will choose to do it themselves.