Sometimes, we simply have to state the truth: As an Education Advocate with extensive “insider” experience as an administrator and teacher, my writing leans toward grace and understanding, rather than confrontation and conflict. As Michelle Obama stated, “when they go low, we go high”. I tend to follow her guidance when it comes down to sharing my perspective and experiences within the public school setting. However …
And at the same time, I hear from a number of parents EVERY DAY about their experiences which highlight a general lack of transparency and accountability on behalf of school administrators. So the intent here is to lightly pull back the curtain in the same way that Toto presented within the Wizard of Oz.
The situation that caused me to write this post is as follows: Recently, I received a call from a parent; her 7 yo child was suspended as well as placed in a Harassment and Bullying investigation for behaviors during recess for her child demonstrated an obsession toward another student during the unstructured period. This created a sense of fear and worry for the other student. The parent was upset for her child has always been described as “sweet, collaborative, helpful, cooperative” [as stated within IEP documents]. As a result, the following actions were taken:
- The student was removed from his class and placed in another room; starting all over from a social – emotional framework
- The student was removed from recess and provided an alternative setting for his breaks; rather than given the opportunity to learn from the experience through restorative practices and supports.
However, it was the following statements that cause me to think twice and simply state “bullshit”:
When I commented that these actions were disciplinary and were highly restrictive related to this student’s actions, his past experiences, and his current IEP, we were informed:
- ” … corrective interventions are being put into place, but no disciplinary measures are being taken.” [investigator]
- ” … was not removed from the classroom; he was re-assigned to another classroom. This was not disciplinary”. [principal]
How often have you experienced the use of semantics as the means to justify actions on behalf of the educational system? In what universe are “Corrective interventions” not a form of discipline? And how is being “re-assigned” to another classroom not a form of removal?
We also hear or see the use of creative language within the IEP process when we are addressing year-long goals when students fail to meet their learning targets: “Making progress” may be highlighted, even though the growth is minimal and reflects poorly on the instructional process. Enough is enough in light of flagrant use of semantics when it comes to our children and their development at school.
In review, I am simply sharing a recent experience but I know that there are many others which are similar taking form every day. So my message is the following:
SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS: It’s time to be honest, transparent, and genuine with parents; place yourself in the position of your constituents, and speak from the heart. When you sound like a politician, putting a spin on the truth, you do us all a disservice.
PARENTS: It’s time to continue to demonstrate grace and understanding as we see the shift unfold within our institutions like public school and education; everyone is stressed out as changes take shape. This is not a COVID thing; it’s on-going. However, it’s time to speak your truth when you hear or see “BS” placed before you in lieu of accountability.
And for those who struggle with this process, the pulling back of the curtain, give me a call.