Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Mama Bear in Me is Coming Out with a Vengeance!

Get your popcorn out. This is going to be a doozy. Let me give a little back history first:
1. When one of my kids does something stupid to a sibling, I will often say "Okay, now you're their slave for 45 minutes".
2. Aiden's class has been studying slavery in school.

I got a call from the assistant principal today telling me Aiden was in a little trouble. Apparently he and some other little boys were all playing and being goofy, and Aiden said to one kid "Hey! Now you're my slave". Then another kid in the same group said, "No, he's my slave". A little girl overheard the conversation and told the teacher. The problem? The "slave" has brown skin. The teacher asked the boy if his feelings were hurt by it, and the kid said something to the affect of "Well, it hurt my feelings that they were teasing me". Because the little girl who reported it was offended, the teacher had no choice but to report it to the principle. As the teacher was telling me this, I was agreeing that what he said was stupid and thoughtless, but explained how the term is used in our house. Never once has it been suggested as a racist term. I agreed that he needed a consequence to help him remember to think before he speaks next time. The consequence? THREE DAYS OF IN-SCHOOL SUSPENSION.

I asked if it would have been the same if he'd said this to a child of a paler skin color and was assured that it would. She went on to say he'd been in with her for nearly three hours already. THREE HOURS and no one called me!!!! I explained that I felt that it was excessive and was sure he didn't mean this as a racial slur, and she said she believed me but this was going to stick no matter what. He had to learn that this was wrong. I asked if he had argued when approached about. She said no. I asked if he'd been honest about what happened. She said yes. I asked if he seemed repentant. She said absolutely. I asked if she thought he'd ever say anything like this again. She said definitely not. What more is there to learn by keeping him out of class for three days??

It means he can't perform in the choir concert, and will miss two days of drama club rehearsals. Two misses means you're out of the play. We are waiting to hear what the drama coach will decide about all this. The choir thing he's not real big on, but has put a lot of time into. The drama club thing has his whole heart in soul in it. I became more than a little angry and tried reasoning, but she wasn't budging. She suggested that I call Dr. Carter, who was over district discipline.

I called Dr. C., and said I felt that this was a punishment fitting of a kid who got in a fight, used the N word, spit in the teacher's eye, etc. She told me what he did was worse than any of that because it was a racist comment. WHAT THE FREAK!?!?! The assistant principle had told me this would have been the same consequence regardless of color!!! Then we had the following conversation:
Me: I assure he didn't mean it in a racist way.
Her: Yes he did.
Me: Ma'am, that is not what he meant.
Her: Yes. It is.
Me: You're crazy.
Her: I am not crazy.
Me: Click.

I went straight to the school and had Byron meet me there. We were there nearly two hours. Here are the key things brought up.
If he were an adult and said this, he'd lose his job. Ummmm...he's not an adult. He's ELEVEN.
Surely Dr. C. couldn't have meant that she thought Aiden was racist. I'm not kidding when I tell you what I wrote above was our exact conversation. That's what she meant for sure. The principal said I was taking it out of context. I said "Oh? Kind of like Aiden didn't mean that this boy was his black slave? Well, if he'd been an adult he'd have lost his job. Since Dr. Carter is an adult and said something offensive she didn't really mean, maybe she should lose her job." That didn't go over very well. In fact, it was just sort of ignored with "We can't have a say in what administrative consequences are."
The school says they know Aiden is "a great kid and of good character", but none of them had the balls to stand up for him and defend his honor when district administrators were brought in.
Aiden wrote a letter of apology without being told to, but the principal hasn't given it to the kid. I spoke with the kid's mom and apologized profusely. She did at least say that the principal told her she didn't believe the boys intended it racially. (Too bad they couldn't say that to the powers that be, right?).
They promised me no one else would know about the consequence except for Aiden and the other boy in ISS. Then they said they were counting today as half a day, so the boys could return to class on Friday after lunch. Really?!?! No one will raise a brow about that?? I think not! They said they'd "work through it with them and help them feel good about themselves." I thanked them and explained that they'd done quite enough about Aiden's feelings, and to please not do anything further in that department. I'll take care of it.

I'm SO ANGRY! This is perfect example of political correctness over-riding common sense. There are more details, but they're so jumbled in my head I can't even think straight right now. Did he do something wrong? YES. Does he deserve a consequence? YES. I think one day is more reasonable, though.

Someone talk me down. Am I over-reacting? I feel like Aiden is being made an example of. The assistant principal just last week was promoted to principal next year, and I feel like she has something to prove in her abilities to be politically correct. He has perfect attendance, straight A's, only good things said about him from his teacher. None of this was accounted for. No one stood up for his character. So. ANGRY.


Olivia said...

Okay, I went to google reader and read this. The people who know him should have stood up to him. His teacher for sure let him down. The could have been taken care of between the principle, teacher, you, and the other boys parents.

Anonymous said...


I am really hoping you can take this in the spirit intended and not be more upset. Chris told me what happened and I just read your blog. First, I am sorry for all the crazy drama.
You need to stand back for a minute and chill. Have Byron give you a blessing, pray and breathe. Getting more upset is not going to help but make the sitution much worse than it needs to be. There is a lot going on here, and how you handle it could have some lasting consequences on how you teach your children to handle things, how the school/district will view you, Byron and the kids following behind Aiden in addition to the next school that Aiden will be attending ect. Yes you have the right to be upset, and no Dr. Carter should not have talked to you that way, but consider how you might have come across to her? I'm sorry to say that hanging up on her was not the best way to deal with the problem and will help promote a negative view of the situation. Maybe a fresh start tomorrow.
Above all else, this is not the teacher's fault. They are required and obligated to report all problems of this nature to the adminstration if not, they are in danger of losing their jobs. Once you confronted the princpal in a manner that could have been perceived to be aggressive they then had to get the district involved to once again, protect themselves. Students get sent to the office or the princpal all the time and parents don't receive an immediate phone call unless it is life or death, that is unrealistic. Yes 3 hours is a long time and you need to make sure that it was that long and why. Also do you really think this is a lawyer, fight to the death situation? If so, where do you go from here? What happens when a much more serious, complicated situation ever comes up with one of your children and you have already used extreme measures?
I realize that Aiden is bright, and has great character ect. but, he does sometimes have a tendancy to say things that push the line or cross it and that he does this knowingly. He also can be disrespectful of you and therefore possibly other authority figures.

Anonymous said...

I know you don't want to hear that because we all love our kids and worry about their self image and that others don't understand them like we do ect. Aiden will do wonderful things and he is a fantastic kid. This can be seen as a oppourtunity for him to learn the consequences of things he says even if he thinks they are funny ect. and to learn the difference between family talk and what can be said in public. Better now than later, which would surley come. The other student really could have felt bad but didn't know what to do but play along, same with the parents. They probably just want it to end and the more it goes on the worse it will be for everyone.
The student who over heard has the right to be upset and say something because I am sure they took it as a racial situation ect. Students complain when other's use the F word or other inappropriate language or talk about inappropriate things. They are told they can and should. It isn't to debate now whether that should be so because it is the way things are.
Also, it is unrealistic with the way students talk ect. that others will not be aware of this event. I'm sure the school, district, teacher and princpal know how you feel and that you mean business. There is so much here, that I don't dare bring up any more because I know how upset you are and how justified you feel. I have been in a situation more than once where I did not like how something was handled at schools with my kids. I even home schooled Zak in 8th grade because of his middle school. I have also seen and been on the other end. Trust me this could really get ugly and cause Aiden some problems that you might not be considering in your anger. I love you all. I "get it" even if you think I don't. I just wanted to present a different side because sometimes we need someone outside not so emotionally involved to let us see or know where we could be heading or are. You can handle this anyway, it is your right and whatever you decide to do I will support you 100% and help you in any way I can. Let me know if you need to talk ect.
Love Kim

Anonymous said...

You said you wanted someone to "talk you down." I really do love and admire you. Don't forget that


Blondentropy said...

I respectfully disagree with Kim about how the teacher and administration handled this situation. Having discussed this situation with my husband with 20+ years of personal experience as a teacher, administrator, principal and teachers union president- the teacher did not have duty to act nor to escalate the situation to a racial slur charge.

Likewise, the principal has duty to deescalate and provide a safe, fair and unthreatening environment for all students, even those perceived as bullies. The punishment did not fit, nor was it consistent with other situations being handled by the administration at the same time. If the Dr. was reacting to an angry parent by retaliating against the student because of an irate mother, that is unequivocally wrong and unprofessional. Administrators deal with angry parents every day and reacting with spite ought to be a clue that the administrator is in the wrong profession.

AimeeTheSuperMom said...

Silly girl. You're not going to offend me over this. To be clear, I don't blame the teacher. I explained that I knew it was wrong to hang up on Dr. Carter when I spoke to the principal and vice principal. I have really no intention of getting a lawyer. What would be the point?

BUT, I will continue to fight this because it's the principle of the thing. They said this falls under disrespect and a precedent was set last year when a very similar situation happened. Okay. I get that. So, as of last year, anyone who disrespects someone else by mistake or on purpose gets a three day in school suspension. Why, then, when I called to say that a boy had been bullying CJ on the bus for weeks and threatened to "punch his face in" didn't that child also get suspended? He got a good talking to and his parents were notified. Fair is fair. That child came from a bad home life, it was explained to me. Okay. So, if you have a bad home life it's okay to say and do ugly things? There has to be a line. This is a bad rule. Here in America, when we have a bad rule, we amend it. At some point common sense has to prevail over political correctness.

There are students in middle school who do far worse things and don't get this much of a consequence. Aiden is being used to prove a point, and that's fine. But now I have a point to prove, too.

Blondentropy said...

Whoops, I need to clarify. The teacher had duty to act but not to report the admin. How great would it have been to pull all the kids aside and teach them why the 'joke' was offensive and allow for amends to be made on the spot.

Lorrie Munson said...

I hope you will take what I write "as lessons learned from living 60+ years." The scriptures and Prophets are wonderful when learning life's lessons. When I had this situation with my children we would read from the book of Mormon and then have the chldren "serve one another." It didn't always work but at least I felt I bringing the spirit into our home.

I think the problem started with you having a child be a slave. Today the headlines are full of slave reference and it doesn't refer to racial. It is much worse. Now would be a wonderful time to place that word in the "garbage word" pile. If we fail to teach our children the school system will as you found out.

Telling your children you are sorry for teaching them to use the word might be the best thing to do.

AimeeTheSuperMom said...

We have already had the discussion about the fact that me telling they're slaves was wrong. In fact, I suggested to the school that this was a teaching problem on MY behalf and said I would take a day of the suspension. And I meant it. I will gladly sit there for a day for using the wrong word.

I do want to be the bigger person about this, but I also want to make sure we make an effort to set a precedent with school about common sense. This consequence defies all common sense. Aiden has thick skin, and he will be okay in the end. Not all kids are as tough as he is.

I did sit down yesterday and write a letter to the powers that be and will post it.

Loren said...

I sincerely doubt that the punishment would have been the same had the child in question been white. Chances are the only reason the girl who told on them was offended was because the child had darker skin, given what they were learning in class at the time. Furthermore, I think if if had been the darker skinned child addressing your child, they probably wouldn't have done the same thing either.

The fact that they're using him as an "example" to prove a point just screams "power trip" to me. Totally ridiculous. This could have been an excellent teaching moment for the teacher and the administrators, and they wasted it by putting to focus on being politically correct and trying not to be viewed as racist - which, really now they are just reversing the racism.