I and half the autism blogosphere wrote a while back about Alex Barton’s horrible ordeal at school where he got voted out of his kindergarten classroom by his peers at the leading of his teacher. The idea – warped as it was beyond what the human brain should be capable of – apparently was to help him somehow understand that his behaviors were disruptive of the class and he needed to be shamed into learning to improve his behavior – since of course that’s so easy for an autistic child to do under the best of circumstances – or some asinine junk like that.
Raise your hand if you think anyone with two brain cells to rub together would think this is a helpful behavioral therapy technique for autistic children (or any child for that matter). That’s what I thought. You can read more about it on my previous post if you want.
Now fast forward to the present – Alex Barton’s teacher, Wendy Portillo, has now been suspended without pay from the school for one year. The local superintendent is asking the state Board of Education to revoke her teaching certificate during that year. Reports are that her tenure has been stripped such that she will only be able to get a year-to-year teaching contract when she returns. No criminal charges will be filed.
I’m not sure what I think about this. If she accepted the consequences and took responsibility for her actions, I might be willing to leave it at this, but I’ve not seen evidence that she has done so. By going ahead and appealing this decision, it doesn’t appear that she has any intention of doing so.
If I could be a benevolent dictator or something, I think I would offer her a choice: a public apology and you only get suspended for the remainder of the school year and lose your tenure until somebody years from now feels like giving it back to you, or you can appeal and we will gather a group of angry parents from the blogosphere to vote you out of the teaching world and set fire to your teaching certificate in front of you and national TV. One second thought, we’ll have you write, “I will treat all children with respect.” 10,000 times on the blackboard first.
You know, how about just teach children that taking responsibility for one’s actions is a good thing. And showing that there’s a red, pumpy thing in your chest that in some way regrets frightening Alex from wanting to ever set foot in a school again.
Good luck to Melissa Barton with her lawsuit against the schools. Behavior like this in a classroom by a teacher is inexcusable, and the rest of the education world needs to know that even though the number of teachers who act like this is very small, if a school system permits this under their watch, somebody should be held accountable. Period.