Thursday, October 6, 2011

Public School Experiment Gone Bad

When an experiment goes bad, it can be a minor thing, and it can be a major thing. At first, we thought this was only a minor thing. Xavier was bored. We weren't surprised. Although Xavier has learning disabilities, he's also quite gifted. I skipped him a grade to get him into 6th grade. Academically, he could have probably skipped straight into 8th grade. He was making all A's, with one B. He was getting all good conduct reports (except for in band, his favorite class- those percussionists...). When I withdrew him, his teachers all told me how good his conduct was. He was still bored.

The boredom, we were all prepared for. We figured he would probably go out of his mind with boredom. He wanted to try school. He wanted to have the opportunity to make some friends who lived close. We wanted him to have the opportunity to see if school would work for him.

What we weren't prepared for was the bullying. Oh, sure, we knew that bullying goes on in school. We even suspected that Xavier might have to put up with some bullying. But, Xavier didn't tell us about the bullying. Even though we questioned him extensively, he just didn't tell us.

Since school started, Xavier's hard won self control has been consistently slipping. It was getting harder and harder for him to maintain. We were seeing more incidents of loss of control each day. It wasn't until a relatively innocuous incident got blown out of proportion that I saw the pattern. After much discussion, I finally realized that Xavier was being teased at school- a lot. So, even though we had originally made the deal that he would stay for the first nine weeks of school (which ends Friday), I asked him if he wanted me to withdraw him early. He said, "But that wasn't our deal."

When I responded that I had always intended to withdraw him early if he was miserable, he started crying, and asked me to withdraw him as soon as possible. Apparently, he had just been waiting for that nine weeks to be up. So, I went to withdraw him yesterday. While I was there, I learned something else that did not make me happy about Xavier's school experience, but extremely thankful I was withdrawing him.

While I was sitting, waiting for Xavier to go to his teachers to have his withdrawal paper signed, I watched him walk through the halls. As he was walking through a double doorway, there were three girls walking through going the other direction. One of the girls grinned at the other two, then turned and shoved Xavier into the door. She then turned to her friends and laughed. Xavier bounced off the door and kept going, for all the world as though nothing had happened. It gave me the impression this was not the first time it had happened.

When he returned to me, I asked him, "Does that happen often?"

He looked at me blankly, "What?"

I replied, "What that girl did to you?"

He said, "Get shoved into walls and doors? Oh, yeah. All the time."

Now, I have to hope that if Xavier were to ever be hit, he would defend himself. But, Xavier's a bit of a pacifist, even with his short temper, so I'm not sure he would. It is very frustrating to me that Xavier was not only being emotionally bullied, but also physically bullied, and he never said a word. I am so thankful that he is back in an environment where he won't be bullied. And, I have a final word to say about socialization.

I had a couple teachers tell me that Xavier needed to learn to get along socially. I had a very difficult time keeping my mouth shut, but this is what I wanted to say:

I don't want my child to learn that it is okay to make fun of other children.
I don't want my child to learn that it is okay to tell a child he is going to hell, and he should leave their lunch table.
I don't want my child to learn that it is okay to dump another's child's food in the trash.
I don't want my child to learn that it is okay to shove people into walls and doors.
I don't want my child to learn that it is okay to hate learning.
I don't want my child to learn that it is okay to be disrespectful to the adults in his life.
I don't want my child to learn to get along in a jungle.

I want my child to stick up for the underdog.
I want my child to accept other children, no matter their religious beliefs. (I don't want him hating all Christians because a few Christians have treated him poorly.)
I want my child to treat other children with kindness.
I want my child to help other children up when they trip, or help them pick up their belongings when they drop them.
I want my child to love learning.
I want my child to be respectful, even in disagreement. That is the only way we can have a civilized society.
I want my child to learn to be an adult, not a quasi-adult, who still has the impulse control of a 2 year old, and can only be controlled by older adults/policemen.
I want something for my child that the social atmosphere of a middle school just can't give him.


  1. How horrible! Kids are SO mean! And of course it largely goes uncorrected! So glad he is back with you full time!


Please, be respectful. We're all friends here. We can disagree with respect.


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