Although I’m proud of Xy for being a good teacher in the public schools, it’s also a source of frustration for both of us. She so often comes home worn out, angry and overwhelmed. Every school day is an exhausting drama. Not only that, but most of her evenings and weekends are full of homework, and she has to pay for many supplies out of her own pocket. But I digress.
We’ve got a teacher shortage in New Orleans, and as a result the two other teachers at Xy’s grade level are older folks who’ve come out of retirement. Good for them, in theory. But in point of fact these teachers are not really able to cope with the reality of today’s school. One is at least trying, but the other doesn’t seem to care. In fact, it’s worse than that. He’s abusive to the children and harasses his fellow workers.
Most recently this teacher punished his students by handing out a bunch of failing grades, on a seemingly arbitrary basis.
At least one child was beaten as a result. Xy discovered this yesterday when she noticed the child had a sore arm. When she rolled up her sleeve Xy saw a huge welt. As it turned out she had severe bruises all over her body. She confessed that her father had beaten her severely when he discovered she’d gotten an F.
Xy reported this to the school’s social workers, and they had her call Child Protective Services. Xy had a lot of trepidation and misgivings about that. She didn’t want to make things worse for this child. But she really had no choice.
CPS was supposed to visit the child’s home last night and photograph her injuries. I wonder how that went.
What a terrible situation. Of course the parent bears the full responsibility for his actions. But Xy is also angry at the teacher who handed out failing grades without rhyme or reason, simply to punish the children, whom he can’t seem to manage except through fear and intimidation. Later in the day, when Xy came back down to the office on an unrelated matter, she overheard a visiting parent exclaim that her child would be receiving a beating for bring home an F from the same teacher.
Xy’s also angry at the school administration, because they haven’t taken the appropriate steps to reign in this rogue teacher. But she figures that child would have received a beating on another pretext eventually.
A teacher can’t solve everything, but it weighs heavily on Xy nonetheless.
It’s easy to despise the abusive parent and put ourselves above him. But that’s a dangerous moral trap. If we don’t provide a decent education for all our children, we’re effectively beating them down. And I’m sorry to say that’s still the case in New Orleans today, despite the big rhetoric about transforming our schools.
Yeah, I said it. Our current school system is a form of child abuse.
Update: The events described above took place on Thursday. On Monday, Xy learned that CPS still hadn’t visited the child’s house. In fact, CPS has no record of Xy’s call on Thursday. Supposedly they are rescheduling. Meanwhile the child’s bruises have steadily faded.