Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wondering the problem in public schools?

Read this story!

If this had been my kid I would have made it my mission to see that Wendy Portillo of Morningside Elementary School in St. Lucie Florida was fired.

Kindergarten is the place where a child begins making the transition from home to formal education. Children learn basic skills through social interaction, they learn reading, writing, and a little arithmetic. They draw, color, paint, and play. These children learn to assimilate into a community which is the classroom and in which they will spend the next 11 years or more if they go to college. Oh sure the learning process begins at home but it really takes shape formally in kindergarten. These children are only five years old, they are very young and very impressionable and what happens there can affect them for years to come.

Which is why it is so important to have the right teachers guiding these young children. And that is apparently NOT the case at Morningside Elementary School in Port St. Lucie Florida where a teacher named Wendy Portillo decided to have the class vote on whether or not five-year-old Alex Barton could stay in their class. First she had each student tell the class what they didn't like about Alex, then they got to vote on whether he should stay or go. By a margin of 14 to 2 they voted him out, that is after he had to sit through his classmates talking about the things they disliked about him.

Now I'll add in that Alex Barton is in the midst of tests to determine if he has Asperger's syndrome which is a form of Autism. Autistic children can be a little more difficult to deal with but his condition was NO secret to his teacher. She knew about it and yet she pointed him out, made fun of him, and turned what was supposed to be a safe learning environment into something cruel, embarassing and shameful.

I started Kindergarten in August 1974 and I remember my teacher vividly. One of the great things I remember aboutMrs. Ethel Napier was that she was a fine lady, very sweet and kind and we all loved her. She was a really warm and wonderful lady, the kind of teacher you want your child to have their first year in school.

Sure I'm a realist, I know the world can be cruel at times but I'm 38 years old and the world is very different to me than it is to little Alex Barton. I understand the world can be tough, I have reasons to be cynical at times, and I understand relationships and how people can be. I've experienced a lot in this world whereas little Alex Barton has not. Every child has their quirks and no surprise mine was that I talked a lot in school. I think about how I might have if Mrs. Napier had done to me what had been done to Alex Barton. I would have been so sad and embarassed. And I never would have wanted to go back to South Miami Heights Elementary School--EVER! That's because when I was that age I wanted to badly to fit in, just as the other kids did, and at that age being a part of the group meant an awful lot to me, just as it did for Alex Barton.

Teachers whether they be elementary, junior high or high school have a tremendous impact and influence on their students. To ostracize a child in front of their peers is shameful and disgusting and so is forcing the child's peers to be a part of it.

I had a junior high school teacher who pointed me out and embarassed me in front of my classmates. After that, math was never the same, I hated it, and I hated him for making me feel like such a loser--and I was only 14. Imagine feeling like that at five years old?

We do not need people like Wendy Portillo in the classroom teaching our children.


  1. they investigated and found no indication that the level rose to emotional child abuse??? who the hell was interpreting the results of the investication, bozo the clown???

    reminds me of something that happened to my son in 7th grade - according to the bus driver, three boys were throwing stuff at jesse and the driver gave the boys two warnings and the third time it happened he turned the bus around and headed back to school. the vice principal (whom we'd had run ins before with jesse because of his bi-polar and hearing disability) pulled jesse off the bus and suspended him from school for two days and the bus for the rest of the school year - it was november.

    the bus driver called me to tell me what had happened and that it was NOT jesse causing the problems. i high-tailed it to the school and had a run in with the vp at which point he told me "if jesse weren't such an oddball, the other boys wouldn't pick on him. he just needs to learn to behave."

    i escalated it all the way to the superintendent of schools but they could find no wrong doing by the vp. and that was even with the bus driver telling the inquiry that jesse had never done anything wrong on the bus.

    it sucks, but it's skewed against the children, not for it. sort of goes hand in hand with what the latest past president (i can't remember his name) of the nea said when questioned about his policies that would be bad for the children - you know the students? any way, he said "when children become members of the union and pay dues, i'll worry about the children."

    apparently many in pre-college academia feel the same. are you SURE you want to go into that rat's nest???

    heidianne jackson

  2. The only time I ever told the principal about the bullying I was experiencing, I started receiving death threats in return from the other students.

  3. Holy Crap Marie! This poor kid will be burning Charmin by the time he's 10!

  4. Anonymous1/17/2009

    I have a nephew with aspergers autism. He is a wonderful kid, but his parents and teachers have worked very hard with him. He has been greatly blessed to have so much love and support. I can't imagine where he would be today if he had been treated like this poor little boy. It just makes me soooo angry.~STd