May 24, 2008 6:08 pm
I don’t typically blog about the latest news stories as I’m always a few steps behind other bloggers in keeping up with the news. Today is different. Today I found two new heroes in this news story. It’s not a pleasant story. It describes how an irresponsible teacher chose to lead her kindergarten class in bullying a student with a disability. According to the story, Wendy Portillo had her students each say what they didn’t like about their classmate, Alex Barton, and then had them vote on whether to remove him from the classroom. The students voted 14-2 to kick Alex out of class.
My new heroes are the two students that went against the tone set by the teacher and voted to keep Alex in the classroom. They recognized the difference between right and wrong and voted for what was right by choosing acceptance and understanding. They stood up to their peers and one of the primary authority figures in their life. Describing them as heroes is an understatement. At the age of 5, they are willing to do what’s right in spite of pressure to do what’s wrong. Their parents, guardians, grandparents or whoever is raising these two children are also my heroes. They have managed to teach important lessons about life to five year olds. That’s an incredible thing.
Many people are contacting the school board to voice there outrage against Ms Portillo, and I hope the district is overwhelmed with phone calls, email, and letters. Perhaps Ms. Portillo should be required to stand before the school board while 14 parents of children with disabilities, and the parents of my two heroes, have the opportunity to tell her what they dislike about her. The parents could then vote on whether or not she gets to keep her job and her teaching license.
I don’t know that I’ll contact the school board. I’m more inclined to contact the town and offer to chip in for a parade to honor the town’s new heroes.
Mike Stanton quotes a touching piece of writing in his blog post on this story. In encourage you to click over and read it. It describes how things should have gone in Ms. Portillo’s classroom.
I’ll close by sharing a story that I’ve written about in draft posts, but I don’t believe I’ve ever posted to this site. After kindergarten was over for SJ, one of the mothers of a student in his class told my wife about one of her teacher conferences. The teacher told her that there was an autistic child in the classroom and that her child had reached out to him more than any other student in the class. As the mother told the story, she choked up and thought “That’s what life is supposed to be about!”. She said she didn’t remember another thing said at the conference because nothing else the teacher had to say was as important as the feedback she had already given. I suspect that the parents of my two new heroes are a lot like this mother.