Tuesday, January 24, 2006

January 24, 2006

My biggest fear in life is being useless. I fear waking to a day when life no longer needs me and I die because my purpose has been outlived. That is my biggest fear. While I was on bed rest I felt useless and couldn’t stand being still. It was like dying and I couldn’t handle it. I’ve been at war with life since my conception, against miscarriage, hatred, loneliness, abandonment, verbal abuse, dyslexia, autism, prejudice, death and disbelief. Mom and Matt have been my compatriots in the fight. Life has been knocking me around for as long as I can remember and this time in my life is beginning to feel like the calm before the storm. So much good has happened but there are still things that smack of the old injustices.

Yesterday we were informed that I was, as of that day, blocked from subbing in mom’s classroom, OR ON THAT CAMPUS, for good. FOR GOOD! Based on the principal’s rep this isn’t a decision he would have made lightly or without a great deal of thought. However as far as the WHY of the matter we won’t ever know because his policy is to state the problem and the solution and that is the end of discussion. While this is a great way to avoid his words being twisted mom and I are both reason people. She asked if there was anything I needed to work on, were there complaints, was there something I was missing as far as skill? The answer… there was nothing we had done, our work was exemplary and no complaints had been filed or expressed, the sole reason he gave was that I was her daughter AND in a subordinate position and that should something happen objectivity might be called into question. Anyone who knows us AT ALL knows this is horse pucky.

When I got off bed rest I went to work subbing for the school mom works for, in her classroom to make ends meet and save up for the birth. Let’s face it Clay and I are broke after buying the house and in debt up to our eyeballs even if it is building equity, and we also owe for the washer and dryer and the old car loan. I took the job because I know how to teach people with Autism. I took on the challenges of teaching math, my worst subject but I do remember my 5th grade pre-algebra and geometry and I’m not afraid of asking questions when I don’t know how to teach something. I’m like Rain man that way once Mom shows me how to teach something I remember it. Again that is because I know I can ask Mom and she will explain. Most teachers and people in general look at me with contempt when I ask a question about something I don’t know. I really hate that.

My being there gave mom a lunch period by taking over an entire teaching period on my own with all the kids playing Upwords, a game that is like 3-d scrabble, and helping the kids spell the words and make up sentences to write with the word they just spelled. My being there provided an extra hand in teaching math.

I’ll be the first to say that the job of teaching children with any disability is difficult, especially since I was one. But the success of the classroom depends on the support structure that is in place for the children, the paraprofessionals, and the teacher. The Para’s are the back bone and muscle, the teacher is the brain and the children benefit when the two are synced up. The teacher has to deal with mountains of paper work, meetings, and misunderstandings in her department WHILE trying to find time to teach the subjects at hand. She has to coordinate field trips and double and triple check EVERYTHING she does with the boss man. The Para’s have to take over when the rest of the teachers job get’s outta hand and in a self-contained classroom that means you might have 12 kids on five different levels of learning and they ALL need support in what they are trying to learn. It means you might be covering 3 to 8 kids at a time and switching stations between the other paraprofessionals. It is a demanding job that has to take up your WHOLE attention 90% of the time. Down time is few and far between.

People think that teaching children with disabilities is a BABYSITTING job and I have to say if that they truly are idiots to make such a DUMB assumption. Spend a week trying to teach a frustrated child to communicate and then tell me it’s a babysitting job and that we are just “playing with the babies”. My mother is a freaking miracle worker. She has five different levels of math being taught in one class period to kids with Autism, 1st grade(lower and advanced) 2nd, 4th, and 5th grade to 8 children who need different teaching approaches. That requires a minimum of five people and she has two that are permanent who the kids know and who know the kids. The subs are half useless when they are just “there for the day” and standing around staring with their hands in their pockets. It’s one thing for a classroom to need someone for a day because Para number three is sick today but changing a person EVERYDAY or every other day is DAMAGING to the safe environment that she has tried SO very hard to cultivate.

People with autism need security, routine, and familiarity. When those three things are in place the next things they need are communication and from there higher learning. When those three things are no longer in place they regress and all the hard work that has taken months to set up goes down the drain because of some stupid reason that has NOTHING TO DO WITH REALITY. Why should the kids be penalized because of someone else’s prejudice or because of some drunken statement made by a biased idiot who has no clue what they are talking about? What is the use of our educational system if rumor and money are more important than the success and nurturing of the students who need it the most? What bloody good is teaching at all if you are just going to be hamstrung just when you find something that reaches the kids and turns them on to learning and gives them the fire of curiosity in the world around them and the way things work? If education is nothing more than a goddamned rumor mill and teachers can’t teach and administration and the people in the government are going to make decisions about things that they HAVE NO FREAKING CLUE ABOUT then what good is being a teacher, what good is the ability to reach a child, what good is being able to turn a kids world into a place of opportunity and success if you aren’t allowed to???!!!

Things must change. Those who don’t know anything about how a classroom has to be run should shut the fuck up and let those who are ACTUALLY SUCCESSFUL do their job no matter what the biased opinionated pricks of the world have to say. Teachers aren’t paid enough to put up with having their classroom systems torn apart because some anonymous blabber mouth is talking about things they don’t have any business talking about. The children shouldn’t be penalized for a policy that doesn’t apply. When a Teacher finds something or someone that works then that system or person should be given the opportunity to work and their success should speak for itself and be stronger evidence than the OPINION’s of the drunk and the liars and those who have NO BASIS to talk and the rumors. If you don’t know what a special education classroom is REALLY like then you should shut up and allow that teacher to DO HER JOB. I mean hell no one wants to work and if your child has been coddled the whole time either because you don’t know what to do or because you are too soft hearted to do what is best then you should expect that your kid is gonna complain about having to do work, actual work. If you can’t be tough on your kids when they truly need it, when they need that extra push or that firm hand teaching them a decent work ethic then you give up the right to bitch about how tough the teacher is being. Learning is hard and working is hard if it wasn’t we’d call it PLAY, people.

Ask yourself what is more important that your kid be blissful or that they learn how to cook so they don’t starve, should they be lazy brats or should they learn to do math and read so they can have a check book and maybe have a shot at a job someday? What is more important, that Billy play a video game that teaches him to mash a button all day like a hamster or for him to discover that he has a skill he really likes to use like building things or gardening or running races or science? Really take a look at the progress your kid is making and ask yourself if you can make it better or if the teacher can make it better or if there is an extra class outside of school or club or activity that might advance them further. Stop laying it all on the teachers who are getting their budgets and raises slashed all the time.

Teachers are no longer eligible for ANY social security at all because stupid Rick Perry thought that it would be a good idea. However in order for it to be a good idea a person would have to start teaching as soon as they are out of college and continue teaching until they are 70 in order to have enough in retirement for them to live on. Be Aware, people, be aware of what is going the heck on and start changing things so that educators are actually REWARDED for giving a damn about your kid and their education!

Thank you.

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