Long ago in a galaxy far far away…
Episode 1: The Parental Menace
It is a dark time for the rebel parental alliance being pursued relentlessly by the forces of the Educational Imperialists. These forces, gutless and homogenized peons empowered by the faceless, politically motivated cash hounds of the legislated narcissists have overrun the homelands of the people to create an alternate reality in which the individuality of the child has been lessened in order to fit the generalities of the great and mighty Text Book to which they have sworn allegiance.
The rebel parental alliance, after all attempts at infiltrating the Imperial Senate in order to be heard as representatives of their children, attempt to understand the motivations of the education system. It has sent two representatives to meet with an Imperial council …little did they realize that they were walking into a trap set by the dark Sith Lord and his two apprentices to send the message to other rebels that they were no match for the powers of the dark side…
Over the years I have been on both sides of the educational system: a student, as one working with students and one who has a parental voice in the matters pertaining to specific children. The imbalance in determining a child’s well being in terms of academic learning have been blatantly clarified recently after being in contact with a particular Catholic school’s principal, “special needs” coordinator and school ‘counsellor’ while choosing to voice my concerns. The superintendent of the school division was kind enough to point out that these people’s actions over the past couple of years were all my fault – and added that to begin a positive relationship with these people, it would be in my best interest to apologize. What I had done that was so monstrous that these people would behave so?
It began during a meeting two years prior with the principal, “special needs” coordinator and ‘counsellor’ present; along with the child’s mother. I have a pet peeve with people who decide that meetings should be one sided, particularly if they use the mantra “I hear you, I am listening” from any standard leadership course as an inference that whatever has to be said isn’t as important as what they have to say. When this occurs, I tend to make statements that make people stop –ok, I become a prick- and in this particular instance I said, “And they wonder why people bring guns to school”. At the time it did not seem to engage the response I wished for, which was to stop and address the issue that had to be dealt with, as the principal continued seemingly oblivious – until four days later when he requested a meeting in his office about the comment.
The principal was concerned that I would threaten to bring a gun into the school. I responded that was not what I had said, that I had made no threat, I had made an observation about the procedure he was following. The conclusion reached at the end was that obviously I had not said anything about bringing a weapon into the school in the first place and that perhaps I should restrain from making comments made to stop those unhearing souls from paying attention. Since then, it has always bothered me that if it was an issue or thought truly as an immediate threat, why it would take four days for the principal to address the issue and feel as if the staff of the school were overly defensive when I would talk to them?
Over the summer of that two years ago date, it came to my attention that the coordinator had been telling tales. The advantages of a small town, everyone knows everyone’s business – one in particular that I had threatened to bring a shotgun into the school during the case conference. I went to the principal to lodge a complaint about the coordinator. He responded that he had dealt with the matter by telling all the staff that they ‘should not talk about what goes on in private meetings’ and excused the coordinator’s action as being the mistake of a novice – obviously he had not taken the initiative to inform the primary accusee that an embellishment had been told to the staff, nor did he enlighten the staff of what had actually been said; making the defensiveness of the staff the previous year all the more clearer; and had not remanded the coordinator for her colouring of the statement. I asked for the matter to be further investigated, which was rebuffed as the principal ‘made the decisions’ on what was best.
Once again, over the last summer it would be related to me that the coordinator had spread to the staff that I was out to cause her physical harm. Then it comes to this: In September, I once again went to the principal to find out exactly what was going on and exactly when I would have threatened the coordinator as I had made an effort to avoid her since the ‘improvement’ she had made on my comment the previous year. Call me arrogant, but I just don’t converse with people that I think are reprobates. Hence, because of one coordinator’s continuous passive aggressive and underhanded behaviour, obviously everything was my fault.
Episode 2: Attack of the Clowns
During two separate meetings, opposition was stated for DIBELS to be used on a particular student because of concerns addressed at a case conference, with an educational psychologist present, agreeing with the parents that DIBELS would have a negative affect on that child. The principal stated that there would be a meeting on the issue with the division’s special education coordinator. He told the mother of the child this would only take place without my presence on the matter of DIBELS. The mother refused to partake in the meeting without my presence (the principal would later deny that he said that the meeting would only go ahead without my attending of it). The inference for the mother though was DIBELS would not be used. To ensure that it was not, at a parent-teacher interview which I attended, I told the teacher that the mother and I had; based on my opinion and that of the educational psychologist; chosen that DIBELS was not to be used. I specifically told the teacher instead of addressing the DIBELS specialist, because the DIBELS assessor for the school just happened to be the coordinator who had scarred the ability to talk to the school staff, resulting in a lack of trust in her abilities and ethics. The result of this was being banned from the school until the beginning of this year. The principal had stated in handing me the ‘red flag’ (a restraining order) that though there had been only the one teacher that had been in the room, there were two that had been in his office as they were scared that I would do something – he would later say that he was told that I had said “heads would roll if DIBELS is done.” Later in the year the number of teachers present would go up to three. In the ‘official’ report to the school division, I imagine he put perhaps 10 teachers and a mariachi band in his office. I have requested to see the specific file on the matter of the red flag, but each time the principal has refused, along with informing me of any action I could take to defend myself on whatever his ‘threat assessment’ claimed. To enforce the seriousness of his action, the principal had a local Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer present. Perhaps in an effort to enhance the drama of the situation the principal chose to say, “Threatening to bring a shotgun into the school is not the actions of a reasonable person. ”
During the case conference for a student; who was diagnosed by the attending educational psychologist as having anxiety and depression issues; in October of last year when the issue of DIBELS was brought up, it was suggested that having regular sessions with the school counsellor would be a positive strategy for that student. The coordinator then told the student’s mother that this option was not viable as the school counsellor would be taking maternity leave. She instructed the mother to find a counsellor outside the school system, which the mother agreed to do. There has been no indication from the school; though the question has been raised several times by the parents; that at some point after the counsellor had gone on maternity leave, the learning resource teacher was ‘promoted’ to the position of the new school counsellor and began pulling that student out of class for small group sessions. This ‘counsellor’ did not send any notification to the parents of what he was doing with the student, there were no reports sent, and no consent was sought.
The ‘counsellor’s’ activities with that student would have gone unnoticed by the parents of the student if it had not been for a conversation between the parents and the principal where the ‘counsellor’s’ involvement was stated as being a known factor by the mother. The student’s mother, who had not given permission nor had been approached for consent from the coordinator, the ‘counsellor’, or the teacher, confronted the principal on the misinformation. The principal promised that a letter stating the actions of the ‘counsellor’ would be given within two weeks of that meeting. The mother received no letter nor did the ‘counsellor’ approach the mother to give any information personally on the pull out sessions….
Inclusiveness, Honesty, Compassion, Integrity, Optimism, Perseverance, Initiative, Responsibility, Respect, Courage, words that encapsulate the core of so many personal beliefs. It is truly an act of inhumanity when these words are used by an institutionalized system to act as artificial scar tissue over a puss-laden infectious gap; when that system concerns itself with the welfare of children it holds for ransom, it is dastardly.
The education system was intended to teach the ABC’s 123’s to those elite few and over the centuries it has evolved from a ‘privilege’ to a requirement. The educational system has taken upon itself to become a child’s social behaviour mentor. The belief that mass produced textbooks filled with information that within a few years of production will be considered ill conceived as the ‘WORD’ is an illusion, a tool used by educative ‘professionals’ who insist their insight into the child’s growth is far superior to that of the ‘ignorant’ parent (s) or guardian(s).
The education system, it could be argued, has always been such as new knowledge leeches in to devour the old. Those within the direct sphere of influence cannot be held accountable, after all, they were only doing as they were taught, and it’s not their fault that their instructors were mistaken. Does blind obedience excuse those from accountability? In most cases, careers are lost as responsibility is assigned. Individuals are held accountable for their actions or inactions, whether they acted alone or followed another’s instructions.
The education of a child is much more than what a ‘professional educator’ is trained to do. Most of the teachers coming into the educational field went straight from high school to secondary school; there is no real life experience practicality; only theory – how many of those teachers begin with children of their own? For many, all they have to go on is the should be’s of a textbook. The acquisition of pre-defined knowledge does not infer insight; often it limits the accommodation of the uniqueness of a specific circumstance.
The higher educational system seems to promote a sense of entitlement to their students, one that is unfounded. If these institutions had the patent on proper educational procedures, then how does one account for the treatment of Native Canadian children in residential schools? The sterilization of young adults with mental disabilities? In schools forcing parents to put their children on Ritalin, the research is showing that many of these children did not need the medication in the first place and the lack of problem solving skills the drugs nullified their performance abilities as adults. How do we justify this lack of foresight?
The educational system would wish to see itself as above accountability – it has trained the legislators, the lawyers, the police officers and the correctional workers. Yet in its insistence of purity the dark shadow of fallibility follows it. The educational system has forgotten its purpose; it serves its own to sustain itself over the needs of the family. This is the glory of educational fascism. To be or not to be is not the question; it is how to ensure there is no ” not” in the educational systems carefully spun yarn of perfect propriety.
Having stated this, can the Sith Lord and his apprentices continue their reign of terror in the galaxy? To Be Continued……