By A. B. Thomas
The rebel parental alliance, having scarcely survived their encounter with the Sith Lord and his apprentices, wearily make their way to the Imperial Senate in hopes of speaking to the Emperor. It was the alliance’s hope that the Emperor would see the infection spreading throughout the galaxy from the policies instituted, though unwritten, by the Sith Lord and his ilk as a threat that could scar the next generation. Little did they realize that the Emperor not only was aware but through non-action encouraged the behaviour to continue.
Further disillusioned by the lack of action from the Emperor and her Prime Minister, the rebel parental alliance reached out desperately to the Imperial Senate only to find that they deferred all decisions to the Emperor……
Episode 3: Revenge of the Shits
In a meeting at the school division head office this past September, the associate superintendent addressed the parent’s concerns on the issue stating that consent should have been sought, but the infraction, for his part, was nothing more than a ‘learning’ experience. He further excused the ‘counsellor’s’ multiple explanation of who was to have told the mother of the actions as a ‘miscommunication’. The topic was then closed. Two months later, the school newsletter would announce that the ‘counsellor’ had just received his certification in “mental health first aid and suicide prevention”.
In a letter given to the parents at the end of June of last year by the principal, one of the subjects that was highlighted was that the student had not had a current IPP (individual program plan) to guide the teacher and coordinator in the student’s academic activity. In the letter, the principal stated that the lack of an IPP was due to the parent’s refusal to sign the paper created that year for the student. The mother objected, stating that she had not seen any IPP at the parent/teacher interview that November.
During the meeting at the school division office, the issue of the IPP was brought up. At first, the principal stated that the mother had not signed the document. The mother again stated that she had not seen the document. In front of the superintendent and the associate superintendent, the principal admitted, contrary to the letter he had sent, that the teacher had not shown the IPP to the parents. The superintendent deemed that it was an issue of ‘miscommunication’. A month later there would be an IPP created for the student for this academic year. In the additional information section the statement of “parents refused to sign the previous year’s IPP” was included twice. No action was taken to change the IPP to reflect the facts.
The other part of the superintendent’s message was inferred, “tread lightly”. The mother made me promise not to rattle the boat. She did not want another year of banning of me in the school – the superintendent’s veiled warning of toeing the line reached her and in turn I was put on a short leash. The point was made clear at the meeting in September where the apparent course of action for the principal was to once again attempt to ban me, citing an article (which he continuously shortened with the phrase ‘your blog’, which was the term he also used for the article I wrote on DIBELS) entitled “Thou shalt not kill” – in which I argued that you cannot say that killing is a sin, then pardon it with legislative excuses or religious rationales otherwise. The threat fizzled when I asked him if he had actually read the article or just skimmed it, with a quick backtracking that if you connected the dots of the shotgun in the school (which we established I had not said) and a comment supposedly made to a teacher, which was turned into two or three; depending on which of the principal’s version you wish to pick; that formed the back bone of an unseen prior threat assessment.
When the school superintendent constantly referred to the article on DIBELS as defamation and an embarrassment – note she did not dispute the facts, merely commented that a parent who had been researching DIBELS on line had come across my article. This parent’s child happened to attend the same school as the principal in question, so the result was that the article was passed around first the school and then through the school division. She also minimized the events described in that article by stating that since DIBELS was used district wide as a standard assessment tool, it did not fall under the category of special education and negated any obligation of the school to obtain consent from parents for the DIBELS assessment. The superintendent did not answer when questioned that if a parent said no to the DIBELS assessment, why did they have no weight when a principal had the right to make choices. This threat is the very reason that I have chosen to use the general terms for the specific ‘educators’ over their names. I don’t have the resources of the tax payers that the school division has in order to bury a person in legal purgatory to allow those who should be investigated free to continue their practices.
Episode 4: No New Hope
The idea of using threats of school banishment did not end with the principal; this year, one of the teachers had been given an article that I had written called, “H1anyone” where I noted that the school policy was that if a child coughed, the child was to be sent home. This teacher came up to me and told me that “she had lost all respect for me” and that If I “write anything about what occurs in her classroom, you will be banned from coming here”.
So when she gave a child classified as special needs a sandwich from the garbage can and expected the child to eat it, I said nothing – her logic, by the way, was that she asked the class who’s sandwich was in the garbage, no one answered in the positive, that left the child with severe speech delays as the one who had put it in the garbage. Unfortunately, it was not that child’s sandwich, and it is unnerving that the teacher would consider this action acceptable. Nor did I write about the same special needs child who was distraught after losing his tooth, was placed in a chair until he had stopped crying, rather than the teacher and aide attempting to find out the cause of the child’s distress.
With these kinds of actions occurring, the knowledge that the principal is looking for a way to compromise access to the school as well, and the parent worrying that any upset of the teacher, coordinator or principal will lead to serious repercussions against her or her partner – what can it be called other than educational fascism? Fascism is a successful system of rule because the threats of what could occur to those you wish to protect the most create fear not to stand aside and let things occur to that system’s will. So the protocol is to let what the authorities do and hope that in the end that it will not end up a bad situation for your family. What is the cost of this methodology on those who ought to be within a parent’s or guardian’s protection?
One of the things repeated over and over to me is that the one thing a person does not do is go against the Catholic school division; they’ll eat a person alive then spit out the entrails. Having a an psychologist tell you that the actions of a few in the school are deplorable, but the only thing that you could do is attempt to counter the negative effects of those actions of the ten month school year with positive self esteem and self worth exercises over a two month summer break, in my opinion, sounds incredibly stupid. Why not point out the problems and get them solved? Why instill fear into parents of what will happen to their children if doth they protest too much?
With nothing but ‘educational professional’ pronouncements, the questions that remained unanswered from the ‘professionals’ seem to be asked of the void.
If the mother gave no consent for the in-school counselling, who did? Did the coordinator, the teacher or the principal? There was a parent/teacher interview, why was the subject of the ‘counsellor’ not brought to the attention to the mother by the teacher? Why has there not been any attempt on the part of the ‘counsellor’, coordinator, teacher, or principal, since to explain what occurred during these sessions, or an apology for not seeking consent? Under Alberta’s Freedom of Information Act, requests for information are to be ‘delivered in a timely fashion’. It is just shy of a year since the principal had promised a letter outlining the actions of the ‘counsellor’ and several requests have been made since for a letter of account that have gone unanswered. The principal has stated that he would not subject his ‘counsellor’ to writing a statement but the mother should just ‘talk’ (indicating a verbal conversation that cannot be traced and can be denied if information damaging the ‘counsellor’ is given). The parents have insisted that the information be in written form. Would it not seem to be that the principal, ‘counsellor’ and the coordinator are in violation of the “timely fashion’ clause of the Freedom of information Act?
In terms of the IPP, who initially supplied the ‘misinformation’? Did the teacher ‘misinform’ the principal, or did the principal opt to choose to put down the parent’s refusal to sign, thinking that the mother would not be aware of the changing of the result of the situation? The coordinator, who is in charge of creating IPP’s used the ‘misinformation’ – was she aware that the statement was false and simply chose to use it thinking that the mother would be intimidated by the meeting with the superintendent so as not to challenge it? It would appear that a document that has been knowingly falsified in order to cast a positive light on the poor hounds of the system is of no consequence to the minions of that system and its supposed wardens. There was no attempt on the principal’s part to correct the misinformation within the student’s record. Perhaps it is easier to digest the denial rather than to look at what the action’s ramifications could potentially reveal. If it was acceptable to alter one document without concern that it would be questioned, how many other documents have similarly been doctored? Could the corruption of facts to suit the needs of the administration extend beyond student records? The administration deals not only with student files but with those of outside agencies, government, community groups and/or charitable causes. Would it not be reasonable to assume that if something would place that administration in a less than flattering light than it wishes to these groups that options open to such an administration would be to act similarly with those documents? Those who are supposed to be the watchdogs seem to have not seen this. It could be that to contemplate this notion would mean a possible investigation into every document those in that administration have done over their careers, the possibility of having to go back to amend the ‘miscommunication’ or ‘misunderstanding’, which in the world outside of professional elitism is termed ‘lying’, the danger of assessing accountability. Assessing accountability within a system is dangerous; it could potentially call attention to other areas that the system would prefer to continue overlooking so that additional failings are not revealed. Order and blind compliance to the status quo, no matter how fractured, must be maintained. One of the mission statements for the school division is “to provide a safe and caring environment”. In light of the actions and inactions of the student’s teacher, the principal, coordinator and the ‘counsellor’, does it not counter this mission statement? Does not ‘miscommunication’, omitting and altering facts constitute ‘uncaring’ and ‘unsafe’ in regards to the student? Would not the superintendent acknowledge that these are serious infractions of conduct and wish to correct these?
In reference to the meeting of the ‘red flag’ with the principal, and with an RCMP member present, as told in Episode 2: During the conversation with the school superintendent it was brought up that the principal said, “Threatening to bring a shotgun into the school is not the actions of a reasonable person”, when the previous year it had been established that this ‘threat’ had not been issued nor implied. This was alarming, particularly since the principal, the previous year had said that the issue had been closed and the admission that I had not mentioned anything about me bringing a gun into the school, chose those words to say in front of an officer of the law. Not only did the principal not clarify his statement but it could be interpreted as something that had happened in the immediate past. I suppose that it was ‘payback’ for my like of getting one’s attention on the part of the principal, and it certainly would give credibility in the eyes of the officer for the principal’s actions. This would appear to be a reasonable argument – if there was not a gap in the train of thought: the lack of police documentation in regards to the ‘threat’.
Perhaps it took the entire officer’s concentration to rest his hand on his holster while the other hand grasped his belt in an effort, I assume, to look intimidating. Perhaps the officer was aware of the principal’s agenda. Perhaps the officer was lazy or possibly deaf to the allegations the principal was making. For whatever the reason, the officer did not file a report on the matter, nor report that he was even present at the school that morning. The principal was able to dodge being accused and charged with making a false statement in the presence of a police officer – convenient and fortunate.
The issue of the differing numbers of teachers in his office prior to the principal’s red flag was also brought up. I thought that it was concerning that in his conversation with me, it was two teachers, yet with the student’s mother it was three. When the difference in numbers was pointed out, the principal was extremely irate, stating that “you are not privy to what goes on in my office”, and when pointed out that one of the teacher’s had a different story, he was even more irate. The superintendent elected not to address this topic of concern.
In speaking to the Alberta Department of Education on these matters of contention, while the representative thought these events were unfortunate and horrible, it was not a matter for the department but a school issue. It was pointed out that the matters had been discussed with the division superintendent but no actions were taken to correct any of the issues. The department spokesperson reiterated that it was up to the school to investigate the matters, not the Department of Education. It would seem to me that if a system is flawed, the legislative body that governs that system is ultimately in charge of overseeing the investigations into the flaws. Yet, the spokesperson made it sound as if the provincial government had no interest in what could be called the molestation of the family as a unit.
Inclusiveness, Honesty, Compassion, Integrity, Optimism, Perseverance, Initiative, Responsibility, Respect, Courage, these should not be words that hold hollow meaning; these words should not be idle system buzzes to mask the lack of belief in their meaning. Bureaucracies are effective in painting over their blemishes with the blood of those who dare speak up against them. Systems are closed to all but those who cavort within, allowing only what makes their actions be the only option. It is far easier to assassinate an individual unconnected with them than to attempt to avoid scrutiny or assign responsibility that shows the dark recesses of rot within. In the end, it will not be the superintendent, associate superintendent, principal, ‘counsellor’, ‘learning coordinator’ or the teachers that will be left scarred – it will the children and the primary caregivers of those children left broken by the system on the sideline, helpless to protect their charges . It makes one wonder how many other children who have been left with the message, “you are nothing to us because we are authority”.
Children are resilient; they absorb the knowledge they see as preserving their placement within the context of society as they interpret it from the actions of others. If the persons who are placed with power over the will of the primary caregivers through legislative and fiscal situations that negate home schooling as an option are allowed not to show personal responsibility for their actions against the child or the primary caregivers, what does this teach children? It teaches that personal agendas can be shielded by a title. It shows that using others as they are nothing but tools for that agenda is acceptable. It teaches that personal responsibility is not required, as long as you are part of a societal cattle herd. It teaches that the primary caregivers are not important; they just need to be humoured without the bother of receiving accurate information. It teaches that anything can be done as long as you don’t get caught – and if you are caught, the shield of ‘professionalism’ will protect you, though ‘professionalism’ ought to be a mere lapel pin.
There are several excellent teachers in this school, but for how long? Seeing the administration oppress and circumvent without reprisal infers the message that it is not about the child’s education, it is the administrative chain of command that is important. How long will it be until they begin to formulate responses geared to what the primary caregivers want to hear while the actual programming goes on without those caregivers ‘impairing’ that program by having any objection or input into it? The principal and the superintendent used the ‘cute’ term of ‘miscommunication’ to show their professional standing, but it is simply ‘lysoling’ the stench of untruth to be more palatable to their noses. It is just a shame that there is no recognition that the majority of it is on the bottom of their soles and will leave traces of the indiscretions wherever they may tread.
The concern should not be for protecting fools accountable for their follies, it should be to lighten the scar tissue that will grow from the wounds those follies have produced. If only on an epic celluloid adventure did I truly relate; regrettably, there is no movie magic crafted from the Skywalker Ranch. It is within our Earthly realm and occurring now, yet it is the grim actions of those deluded to believe that they are incarnates of Senator Palpatine performing acts of injustice whilst in the guise nobility. The brilliant imagination of George Lucas did not pen this tale of insidious evil. So fear not those hailing from the hallowed educational halls of Mos Eisley; the Jedi Council has long since been decimated with now Eden such as Tatooine wastelands where the new generation of the guardians will be raised safely. The Empire rules without resistance – the rebel parental alliance are overly occupied tending to the gaping wounds the marauding storm troopers have inflicted upon their ranks.
One can only wonder if the members of the puppet senate smile when they are in a nursing home, the bed sores devouring their flesh inch by inch because the staff simply put down they had turned the client rather than actually doing so. When the coughing becomes so violent that they drown in their own bile, will they, just as their lungs are, fill with pride, as the staff argues over who is responsible to do what? Perhaps the increase in student suicide and violent behaviours in schools is not wholly from ‘amateur parenting’ but the result of hypocritical, self serving benign professionalism blind to its tendency to cattlecarring to obstruct the development of the individual over the ease of the mob in order to extract dollars from government coffers cushioned by the educational textbook lobbyists’ directives of what education entails at the moment. Children are the currency of our future; it is a pity that educators like these have no interest in the penalties or early withdrawal that are inflicted on the children and families they fleece in order to line their pockets today. To those watchers waiting in the shadows for me – no apologies.