Thursday, March 4, 2010

Who Is "Aiding" Ridgewood's Children?

Merry Meet Family, Friends and Fellow Ridgewoodians!

Tonight, I received a very disturbing phone call from my daughter, Kyla. She had been chatting via web cam with friend in order to get some help doing math homework. During the conversation, the friend's mother, who is a Teacher's Aide at our local grammar school, came into the room and asked who her daughter was talking to. Her daughter responded that she was talking to Kyla, who needed help with her Math homework. The Teacher's Aide responded, "She's too lazy to do homework. She hasn't done homework since the 4th Grade".

Oh really? Is this really the kind of person that we want "aiding' our children in the Ridgewood School Systems? Are these people actually qualified to work with children or do they just know the right people? Aren't they supposed to be trained to encourage our children to do their best?

Kyla was been receiving in support in Math since she was in 4th grade. This was an extremely hurtful comment to make to a child who was asking for help. It is especially inappropriate, as well as insensitive, coming from someone who is employed as an assistant to our Ridgewood teachers.

Now, I'm sure this "Aide" will "deny, deny, deny", but this was a comment made via web cam conversation. Kyla both heard and saw who was making the comment. That said, it wouldn't be the first time this person lied to protect their own ass by claiming that the child had "mistaken" what was said.

When Kyla was in 4th grade, she had a teacher that was new to the Ridgewood School system. On the first day of school, we asked Kyla how she liked her new 4th grade teacher. She said she liked her, but that many of the children were crying. Crying? Why would children be crying on the first day of school? This wasn't Kindergarten! These children were 8 or 9 years old! Kyla told us that many of the children didn't understand the math and that the teacher was becoming impatient with them. My husband, who has been a teacher for 25 years, and I found this somewhat disconcerting, but decided to take a "wait and see" approach given that it was the first day of school. We felt that a period of adjustment for both teacher and students would be appropriate. In the months to follow however, there were an increasing number of similar incidents in which this teacher's behavior was upsetting Kyla. We hadn't had any incidents with any of Kyla's teachers before or since. They all described her as a "pleasure to have in class". We thought it was best to address this issue as it was beginning to significantly impact Kyla's learning experience. We expected that, following our initial meeting, there would be no further incidents. Instead, we ended up meeting on two more occasions as a result of this teacher's behavior.

The "finale" came when Kyla was asked to make a correction on some work she had handed in. Kyla made the corrections, but when she handed them to the teacher, the teacher turned to her "Aide", and in the front of the entire class commented. "Look, Mrs. C, second and third graders know how to punctuate, but this 4th Grader doesn't". Kyla came out of school crying. She was upset and embarrassed. My husband and I called the Principal and made another appointment to meet with the teacher and her Aide. Prior to our meeting however, I spoke to several of Kyla's classmates, just to make sure that there wasn't a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of what was said. All the students confirmed Kyla's version of the events and told us how "sorry they felt for Kyla" and how badly they would feel if they had been on the receiving end of this kind of treatment.

Upon meeting with the teacher and her Aide, Mrs. C, we were told by both, "that's not exactly what was said". I made it clear that several children corroborated Kyla's story. My husband asked, "Well, if that wasn't "exactly" what was said, what was?". Neither the teacher, nor her Aide, could recall. How convenient!

I really think that with the taxes we are paying to live in Ridgewood we deserve better than someone who demeans our children. I certainly hope this isn't what Ridgewood considers the "Gold Standard" in Ridgewood Public School Education.

In any case, not only have I emailed this "Teacher's Aide", thanking her to keep her derogatory and libelous commentary about my child to herself, but I copied the same to the Principal of Travell School as well as the Superintendent. I feel it is imperative that they be aware of the integrity and character of the people we have "aiding" Ridgewood's teachers.



Dana said...

When I was in the first grade I was reading at college level but didn't even know how to add. (Later we learned I have a pernicious case of discalculia.) My first grade teacher and her aide made fun of me in front of the entire class, and literally encouraged the other kids to do so. Well, I went home crying to my mother, of course. Mom didn't believe me. No teacher would do that to a child, surely. This happened every single day for most of the year and I couldn't get anyone to listen. What's more, now all the kids at the school were picking on me and calling me a retard, which continued throughout my school years. Talk about damaging! Finally one day I talked back to the aide and she slapped me. I promptly got up, left the class, and walked home with the mark of her hand red on my pale cheek. NOW my mother listened but it was way, way too late.

I'm so thankful that you are standing up for your child and fighting back against this behavior. She's a lucky girl.

Tracy said...

Hi Dana,

Thank you so much for sharing. As the wife of a teacher, it is very difficult to admit that "yes, there are bad teachers out there". We want to believe that those that are molding our children are people of good character. Sadly, this isn't always the case.

Given our past experience with this person's honesty or lack thereof, I had no reason to doubt my daughter.

I'm so sorry you had to go through this as a child. Bad teachers and their Aides can color a child's whole learning experience.

By the way, I'm most definitely "mathematically challenged!" :)

Stella Seaspirit said...

I believe teaching truly is a vocation and some are born to do it whilst others just become a teacher because it's a job and possibly a "fall back" one at that when they didn't reach their goals to become something else. I think that that is why some of them become so bitter and nasty...
Whenever I came home upset by a teacher my dad would always say "Nevermind, so-and-so will stay in 4th grade forever but you will move on." Ha ha!

spottedwolf said...

Public schools have the same problems that life hands us all on daily basis'. Communication skills among teachers can be little better than they are willing to encounter and work to resolve. There are good ones and bad ones. Your daughter gets the benefit of having two highly conscientious parents to explain to her anything and everything about the 'lacks' in human nature. From this kind of situation she can be easily made to fear victimization.....or you both can teach her to learn from this experience in a far more dynamic standing and politely addressing the insolence and obvious immaturity of these instructors. would be tough for a 4th grader....but it would reinforce so many other things our generation is trying to encourage in our children. Documenting all the incidents which you are aware of may help in such an well as a formal complaint to the school board and the state. Then the school may finally get some strong direction on the issue.

It is a sad state of affairs when we suffer reminders of how much primitivism still exists as acceptable behavior in our cultures.

Tracy said...

There are people who work in the school system, as teachers or otherwise, that are solely in it for the "perks". Unfortunately, some of those people definitely should not be in a position of working with children.

Anyone who feels it necessary to demean a child, especially a child asking for help, doesn't belong in a classroom.

I did do as you suggest, Dennis. I wrote to the Principal, Superintendent and BOE. I doubt anything will come of it, but it will definitely make for an interesting time for this particular individual.

spottedwolf said...

and a very good example for the girl.....why don't you see if you can give her a polite response that she can understand, memorize and use. Such a response, delivered correctly, may be all that is needed........hell..she's what 9yrs old ? she's probably got bigger 'balls' than I do when she chooses to use them .

especially considerin' who Mama izz ! Hahahahah!!!

Tracy said...

Actually, Kyla is thirteen. She's been raised to be respectful of adults. Perhaps too much so. It would be out of character for her to be rude to someone's parent, no matter how much they deserve it.

She was actually upset that I would email anyone about this situation. She said, "Mom, this is the worse thing you've done today". I responded, "No it isn't, the night's still young". Then I emailed the Ridgewood Board of Education.

SeeThroughGreen said...

I only remember a few times in school where i really hoped a teacher would just trip in front of a bus, but they did happen...
Most werent serious but one that I do remember was quite important to me.
I had written a HUGE historical paper for one of my advanced classes...worth about 45 % of the total grade...found resources that most kids couldnt dream of and everything was clear and well organized.
I got the paper back...with a D+...and was murderous!
I went to talk to him after asking a few other teachers to read it (they were very impressed) and he basically called me dumb and said it sucked...
I told him that if he was having issues at home or with the poor work of other asshats in class that he shouldnt take it out on get a grip...and to try and wright a better essay in the 3 day span he allotted us. He was pissed...
but after saying that I would go to the principal next and then as high as I had to go to get the grade changed...he turned all nice and gave me an A-.... and a slice of very Humble pie....
the arse....
Im just glad that some of the greatest people in my life are teachers or i could have turned quite biased against them lol!

Tracy said...

I remember an incident in 6th grade that will stay with me until my dying day.

Our assignment was to write a book of poetry. By book, I mean several poems bound in book form.
We were then asked to read our poetry for the class.

I remember one was an amusing poem about our cat, Jezebel. The kids enjoyed it so much, I was asked to read it twice. All the kids were laughing and having a grand time.

At some point, the conversation turned to a discussion about language and then about swearing. My parents were very strict when it came to us using vulgar language when we were kids (you'd never know it now, huh?). Well, when the teacher asked me if I ever swore, I told her I didn't. Some of the kids who had already admitted swearing began teasing me and claiming that they'd heard me swearing on the playground. I knew it was probably because they wanted me to appear as guilty as they did, but it wasn't true. The teacher obviously had never heard me swearing or she wouldn't have asked the question, but based on what the kids were saying, she believed them.

She then began calling us up one by one to claim our poetry. When I got to the front of the class to get mine, she gave me an A- and then ripped the work in half,
tossing it in the trash. She made some remark about "swearing" but honestly, I so stunned, I didn't even hear what it was. I was devastated!

My parents wanted to go to the school and file a complaint, but I begged them not to.

With my kids, I have a strict policy about giving their teachers or Aides, the benefit of the doubt. Unless, of course, they behave like complete and utter asses and remove all uncertainty.

Anonymous said...

here is the beloved angel at 10
very nice

spottedwolf said...

Hahahahahahahah!!! That's rich !

I still think she should have a way to express herself to "adults" who act like spoiled children. This is a changing world with a lot of the old traditions needing a 'stretch' just like religions are getting. If Kyla is 13 then she is old enough to be treated well as others. There isn't a teacher on the planet who has a corner on respect. You wouldn't stand for that kind of treatment for a second...and neither should she. Well behaved children get treated like subservients many times....because immature adults do not understand how powerful good communication skills are. That teacher's aide is just a bully and her mentor..the teacher should have put a stop to her aggressiveness the first time she witnessed it. The lady must be either intimidated by the aide or no better.

Tracy said...

There were many complaints about said teacher when Kyla was in her class. The aide however, should have learned from the initial experience. Obviously, some people fail in their capability to learn or grow.

spottedwolf said...

Well....I say gentle acceptance be damned.. OFF WITH THEIR HEADS !!!!