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Fear & Loathing in Special Education

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I Hope You Develop Shin Splints

Posted 11-10-2013 at 02:07 PM by Speced9

If there's one thing that THE POWERS THAT BE can do, it's take the PAPA BEAR in me right out of the forest. Here's a situation where I just want to verbally tear into someone's butt, BUT (heh, heh unintentional pun) I can't do that, so, I'm forced to write emails, talk to colleagues (comparing notes) and blog. Angry, vicious blogging. Hang in there, keyboard!

Here's the deal. Like many schools, we have a poverty rate of 75% plus. That means we have a lot of students on free breakfast and lunch. As you might suspect, those two meals are probably the BEST meals a lot of our students get day after day.

As you also might suspect, along with that high poverty rate, you also encounter a certain percentage of other problems like absenteeism and tardiness. It goes with the territory. Concerning this, on one hand, you have a certain percentage of people who don't value education as much as they should. On the other, you have a certain percentage who struggle with life on a daily basis. These are the people who are dealing with transportation issues, life choices, living conditions and things beyond their control. In both cases, I've always had this philosophy- BETTER LATE THAN NEVER.

Not so with the CAFE NAZIS (This is actually what we call them!). These ladies have taken it upon themselves to kick children out of the cafe who haven't finished eating their breakfast, and to refuse to serve students who come in late.

Now, before you form an opinion, let me give you an actual scenario from this week. I'm walking down the hall. It's maybe three minutes after the bell. A little 3rd grade girl is walking towards me crying.

"What's the matter?", I ask.

"I didn't get breakfast."

I know better than to ask if she's gone down to the cafe. I know she has, and I know she's been refused.

"Why were you late?", I ask.

"My mom overslept and they said I can't have breakfast now.", she says between tears.

So, I do my usual. I tell her to go to class. I walk back to my resource room, grab a cereal bar (Yes, I keep them in stock.) and go down to the cafe and buy a milk. (The CAFE NAZIS used to make comments to me about buying milk for late students, but now I don't even give them a chance. I just slap my money down, say "I'm getting a milk." and keep walking.) Then I take it up to the student in their classroom where the teacher and I grumble, shake our heads and quietly curse the CAFE NAZIS which makes me about ten minutes late for my first student.

I believe in refusing a student breakfast in one circumstance only. If a student knowingly plays on the playground when he/she should be in the cafe eating. That's it. It's a natural consequence. That scenario usually happens twice. The first time when we tell them that next time they won't get any breakfast, and the next time they do it because they don't believe us.

The CAFE NAZIS seem to think they can solve the problems of poverty by punishing children. IT'S NOT THEIR FAULT! No matter how negligent, stupid, irritating and disrespectful their parents are, the child has nothing to do with it. What was that child supposed to do? Wake up on her own, catch a city bus and get to school on time?

Then, when you add in HOW they go about pushing kids out of the cafe who made it on time but didn't have sufficient time to eat because of late busses, or long lines,

When that 9:00 bell rings they're like junk yard dogs.


"But…..I just sat down…."says the student who literally just poured milk on her cereal.


You know, this business is getting tougher and tougher. We all know there's more at stake than ever. We know what we need to make a difference in the lives of our students, and we sure as hell aren't getting it. We're being asked to do more with less. We're fighting a losing battle from the start.

On the flip side, I know what I don't need. I don't need a hateful, disrespectful, insensitive idiot helping my students to start their day with an empty stomach, a poor self-image and negative emotion.

You work in a school ladies. That means you're in the education business, which means you're in a business that works in the best interest of children. Buy into it, or get the hell out. We're here to fill their buckets, not crush them.

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