More talk about the schools but this time I’ll try to just focus on Noah. Noah is a very tender-hearted, accident-prone, smart but absent-minded 8-year-old boy. Yes, I know that some of that description is developmentally normal for his age. Noah attended a 3-day preschool program for one year. His preschool teacher knew him from church so she wasn’t objective, but she praised him constantly and the only problem we had was his constantly forgetting to wash his hands after potty. Noah started Kindergarten at our zoned public school and has been there ever since. During the first few weeks of Kindergarten we asked for a conference with the teacher to discuss Noah’s progress. When I mentioned that Noah is left-handed the teacher said “We’ll see about that.” I was appalled and despite my persistence the teacher remained cool and quickly changed the subject. For the next several months we had almost weekly complaints from the teacher about Noah’s behavior. My paranoia about this teacher was confirmed at an assembly when one of the other mothers confided that the teacher “didn’t like my child and one other boy.” In January we had mid-year meetings and the teacher announced “I guess Noah really is left-handed so I’m going to let him use his left hand from now on.” I was so flipped out by this statement that I have no idea what was said the rest of the meeting. A few weeks before the end of the year the teacher called us in to tell us she was recommending that Noah be held back and repeat a year of Kindergarten. I refused and had to sign off on several papers that I would not comply with the school’s recommendations. Let me clarify here that Noah had excellent academic work but consistent problems in conduct. I will never forget what the teacher said at that meeting. “Children from disadvantaged homes need more time to mature and learn. You will regret this decision and come back to me someday and tell me that you should have listened to me.”

I can’t prove it, because parents aren’t allowed to see everything in their child’s records but I believe with all my heart that teacher put something in Noah’s files declaring him a behavior problem. He has gotten the strictest teacher every year since. If any child ever needed a nurturing and kind teacher, it is Noah. This child cries if you just tell him he has done wrong. Further punishment than words is never needed. He talks in class when he shouldn’t because he is bored and finished with the work. He doesn’t pay attention to the teacher because he gets so completely immersed in his books that he can’t hear anything but the words on the pages. It doesn’t help that even though they know he reads at a high school level they insist on giving him simple chapter books for assignments. But, for being so naughty he gets checks and loses cards and clips and all the other complicated, multi-layered behavioral management plans that are in place.

We are now 2 weeks into the third grade and Noah already has so many ‘checks’ that he will not make honor roll. It is time to schedule a conference. Yesterday Noah wasn’t paying attention in gym class and he ran into another child. When he did he bit through his front lip and it started bleeding. He began crying because he thought he was having another nosebleed. Noah’s nosebleeds are severe and the amount of blood is frightening even to adults. He called from the school clinic asking to come home and I asked him to wait an hour and see if he felt better. He called an hour later and we brought him home. He didn’t need to come home physically but emotionally he needed to and I let him come home. If a teacher had been allowed to give him a hug and tell him it would be okay he might have made it through the day, but teachers aren’t allowed to do anything more than put their hand on a child’s shoulder. Even that much they don’t want to do without a witness. How sad is that?

7 thoughts on “109407172494576704

  1. Absolutely, you have every right to see his school records. Email me and we can discuss this further. You should know what is in those records so that you can A) be prepared for what he’s up against (and what you’re up against) B) set the record straight on any mistakes and C) have the peace of mind of knowing how the school views (and thus treats) your child.

  2. I totally agree that you must be able to see Noah’s entire school records. You should also relay to the school that the teacher *may* have been disadvanting Noah by forcing him to write with his right hand–a practice that to my knowledge has no educational purpose or validity. It can be expensive, I know, but having a child psychologist you can trust–someone who is professional and looking out for the best interests of your kids–can help when you run into school problems. And isn’t Noah a little young for such discipline regimes?

  3. Second, you should have gone over the head of that teacher, and continued up the chain of command until you got results. Assistant Principal, Principal, Regional Superintendent of Elementary Schools, the representative of your district on the school board (or the equivalent of what runs your system), the head of the County School system, probably called the Superintendent, city representatives (or county) who are in charge of funding the schools, and the local newspapers, particularly the beat writers who cover the schools (school news sells papers, they’ll be more than happy to listen). Forcing someone to be “right handed” for half a school year is ridiculous. The comment about disadvantaged homes is beyond ridiculous.

    I’d love to talk more about this, please write.

  4. Ugh, I hate those silly rules also. I hate the thought of smacking a child in public because it may warrent someone to think that I am ‘abusing’ my child. A few people have really screwed up the world for others.

  5. You aren’t allowed to see his school records? You should be able to see ANYTHING that they have included in there. It’s so sad that teachers are so afraid of accusations of abuse etc that they won’t just give a frightened crying child a hug. I know that you will fight for your tenderhearted Noah – power to the parents! I’ve fought with teachers for years and years and I know how it takes it out of you.

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