My child is in a center based gifted program in Chesterfield County, Virginia. She earned that spot after numerous tests, and has made it from the 3rd grade to the 4th grade. This is a critical year as she makes the leap to 5th grade.
At the beginning of this school year, the gifted teacher who was supposed to teach the class, became suddenly ill, and was forced to leave under the Federal Law, the Family Medical Leave Act. It was very much a shame because she is an amazing teacher. However, with her sudden departure, the Center Based Gifted Program was unable to find an accredited teacher to take the class. Under the Federal Law, they are not allowed to fill the position for 12 weeks.
There was one substitute after another assigned to the class. No homework was coming home graded, tests were begin given on subject matter that hadn’t yet been taught, and there was no clear curriculum established. They eventually assigned a substitute to the class who is not certified to teach gifted children, and does not have the necessary credentials to be a teacher.
We sent repeated emails to the Center Based Gifted Program, addressing concerns over the competence of this substitute and questioned their plans for the future until the certified gifted teacher returned. These emails were forward on to this substitute, who took it as a personal affront. These emails were meant to be kept in confidence, however, they were not.
As a result, the following sequence of events has occurred, events that have completely overshadowed our year, and taken the wind out of the sails of our holidays, and my child’s previous zeal for learning.
My wife attended a Parent/Teacher conference with the substitute. To her horror, my child’s desk had been moved away from the rest of the class, barely able to see the front of the class, isolated from the rest of the children. The substitute was unable to provide any grades, or discuss my child’s performance. But, the substitute did find the ability to berate my wife for questioning the curriculum and the path of the gifted program. The substitute went so far as to say that my wife was “disruptive to your child’s education” by questioning the substitute’s methods.
My wife immediately went to the Principal. No corrective action was taken against the substitute, but my child’s desk was returned to the group.
A project grade came home. My child’s work exceeded the criteria for the project, and the substitute deducted points from my child’s grade with no explanation. The principal was notified of this, and there has been no resolution or response since mid November. Over the course of four months, only seven pieces of work have been graded out of the countless other assignments that have been turned in.
After the incident with the parent/teacher conference, and right before Thanksgiving break, the entire class was given a treat. The substitute announced to the rest of the class that my child did not deserve one and did not get one.
This past Tuesday my daughter, who had already had a cold, was forced to walk in 30 degree weather around the track of the school during recess for handing a ruler to another student.
Yesterday, my daughter wore a necklace to school. By mid-morning it was causing irritation around her neck. She was attempting to take the necklace off. Rather than assist my child in doing so, they berated her until she got it off, then took it from her.
The substitute subsequently sent my child to the counselor’s office for further admonishment.
Incident #6 — The straw that broke the camel’s back.
Today my child and classmates were given snowflake ornaments they had made for Christmas trees. The substitute accused my child of playing with hers. The substitute summarily took if from my child, crumbled it up, and threw it in the trash. When my child became upset and started crying, the substitute mocked her by saying, “Oh, did that upset you?”
My child has been a straight A student the entire year despite this malicious and odious person. There still has been no response from the School District, Department of Human Resources or the Principal of this school other than numerous disingenuous emails and phone calls from the school principal. But, as all of you know, I am a firm believer that it is our responsibility to fix these things. While I understand the plight of teachers, who are overworked and underpaid, they are civil servants. You pay for them, they work for you and you entrust your child’s future in them.
What I have learned is that one should not automatically believe a teacher when they say that your child is the problem. You know your child better than anyone. If you feel that your child is being mislabeled, it is your right to question the motives and methods of our school system.
I know that my child is not the problem because other teachers have expressed being upset my child would not longer be in their class.
This substitute is harassing and bullying my child because we questioned their ability to teach gifted children. And any of you who are a parent of a gifted child know very well, they are aloof, inquisitive, opinionated, and prone to lose focus if the teacher is not challenging them. And if they are not being challenged, it is not the child’s fault. It is squarely on the shoulders of these teachers we trust our children to six hours a day.
Am I angry? No. I am disgusted with the lack of accountability in our educational system. These children are our future. And my child is being bullied by someone who is not qualified to be in the classroom.
This post will be beamed across the TwitterVerse and Facebook with an estimated audience of over 2 million people. It is time to send a message that we as parents will no longer accept substandard values in our schools, the schools we pay our taxes to utilize.
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