Public School Fails

MCayou By MCayou, 9th Feb 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Essays

a recent encounter with a former student proves what I felt all along, in spite of what all the experts had to say.

Failure of Public School

Public School Fails
I am pleased and proud to acknowledge the efforts of a young man who has persevered through family hardships, personal challenges, and a school system that not only gave up on him, but openly mocked and worked toward his expulsion from our halls. Concerning, isn’t it.

CM was labeled ‘special ed’ from an early age, mostly due to his defiant behavior and the fact that he ‘could not learn.’ As C entered my English class as a freshman many years back, I determined very quickly that he was a very intelligent, insightful, charismatic, but frustrated boy. It was not that C ‘could not learn,’ he would not learn, seemingly to the point of delight from the frustration and commotion he could, and did, cause.

I was somehow able to connect with C and he did a competent job in my class, but I knew that so much more lie hidden within his depths. C became very adept at manipulating people and situations to his benefit, and was afforded countless accommodations and modifications that allowed him to skate from class to class with little to no expectations- just what he wanted. All the while, though, the behavior issues persisted and C found himself interminably sanctioned, punished, and detentioned.

At one point, our superintendent, not the principal because she was never allowed to act as principal, spent nearly an hour with me examining C’s work, discussing his failures, interrogating me as to why C was able to produce in my class, and ultimately advising me to create such rigor for C, way beyond what was normal, that he had no chance of passing and could therefore be expelled. During a one on one with C at the height of all this crap, he let me know that the structure, the subjects and their monotonous presentation (other than mine) and the whole absurd system did not work for him. He wanted to earn a paycheck; he wanted freedom to pursue matters of interest to him, not what was mandated; he wanted to be an adult, or at least be treated like one.

Everyone rejoiced when CM officially withdrew. I did as well, but for much different reasons; C could now do as he pleased with an on-line option, work the hours he wanted and needed to earn that paycheck, and most importantly, work toward becoming the man he already thought he was – on his own terms.

I have seen C a few times working at the local diner, where he has maintained employment for over three years. C has already received his GED, with scores that astounded the administrators. C has achieved more since leaving public schools that he ever could have had he stayed. C is not and never was ‘special ed.’ C’s behavior was a byproduct of an environment he found pointless. I am sure that C is not a solitary case. How many other students are coerced into fitting a perception? How many round pegs are being forced into square holes. Why was I the only one to see C as an individual with a different approach to his own education? With all the focus on creating new and better teaching strategies and demanding the volumes of data from teachers that show they are fit to keep their jobs, why are so many students still archaically pigeon-holed when they dare to defy the status quo?

Tags

Differentiation, Education, Failure

Meet the author

author avatar MCayou
As a retired English teacher, I have much to say on topics from education to psychology to societal influences.

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