Just as the PTA meeting looked like it was over, you raised your hand to ask a question. “Does this PTA do anything except raise money? I want to know what can be done about the bad kids in this school.” As the words left your mouth, I wish I’d had the courage to move from my seat to one where I could see the Principal’s face. The principal was completely still until you addressed her directly. “Are you a teacher here?” Clearly, you never attempted to talk directly to the Principal before complaining to all of the PTA moms and dads about the “bad kids” and the school. After saying “bad kids” more than a dozen times, another parent asked what suggestions you have for the school. You want all the “bad kids” aka students who distract your child, placed in a single classroom with a police officer standing watch over them.
This school is staffed by teachers whose wide-ranging talents allow them to reach the most students humanly possible. A staff that long ago tossed out the concept that there is a single formula to teach in favor of embracing individualized plans for students. Teachers who continue to grow and learn with and for their students. The passion and dedication of the teachers in this school keeps the teachers here in spite of the fact that they must take on so many additional roles at this school. They know their work is vitally important. They are saving lives.
This is a public school. Students are required by law to be here. Without those laws, many would never walk through the school doors. There are students here who are loved and supported at home. There are students who are neglected and abused at home. In between those two extremes are every possible combination of students’ lives. There are some who may or may not get fed regularly. There are students who may or may not get enough sleep or even know where they will be every evening. Some students have multiple caring adults in their lives while others have none. Some students are encouraged to do their best in school while others are taught that school is a waste of time.
With all the outside influences on students’ lives, their potential can seem limitless or bleak. The teachers in this school recognize the obstacles and try anyway. They can’t and won’t take every child who makes odd noises, drums on desks with pencils, can’t sit still or need constant reminders and lock them away in a school jail. The students with the most obstacles in their lives, the students who are at risk of jail, poverty and homelessness, are the students who need the most attention.
Your unconditional love and your child’s desire to learn are stronger than any of these “distractions” that you want to go away. That private school that you repeatedly praised as your next option may be exactly what your family needs. You have selected the private school that most locals would agree is the ideal environment for the type of student you describe your own child to be. In the extremely unlikely event that you decide to stay at this school, your child has the unique opportunity to be the role model and leader who could make the difference in another student’s life. Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to grow and thrive in a school that serves a diverse population of students.
Your plan to visit all the “bad kids” at home to tell the parents their kids are bad is your own folly. Please don’t take your child with you on those ill-fated journeys.