I’ve tried really hard to back down a bit from my son’s schooling. Part of that reasoning is that I wanted him to be able to find his own way without my interfering in every aspect of his education. The other part is that it seemed as though the more I questioned, the greater the target on his back. That was my thinking anyway. What I found was that the less that I questioned, the greater the target. Basically, it’s pretty much a no win situation. Except, my involvement gives him a far better chance at edu-survival than not being involved.
A week ago, a sub (one with known issues towards students of color) threw him out of the classroom and wrote a few things on the referral that were so outrageous that they were humanly impossible. When the AP called to inform me that my son would be going to ISS for three days, I immediately asked if she even bothered questioning it because it was THAT ridiculous. I knew that she didn’t and upon her confirmation, I asked…no, DEMANDED…that an investigation occur.
Too often, especially for young men of color, referrals are written as law and punishments are handed out without a single attempt to verify the facts of the situation. In many cases, the facts as turned in are not necessarily the truth. This was the case with my son. He ended up staying home for one day, per my request, while his name was cleared.
What infuriated me more about the situation was that years ago I worked at this school and although there have been subtle changes in administration, the culture of the school is the same. Kids of color have no voice and speaking up for themselves is grounds for insubordination. I’ve written about this once. Other kids can not only speak for themselves but there are almost always follow up questions to verify the facts in the cases of guilt, those kids are too often given much lighter punishments.
The other day, I had a small “back and forth” with one teacher because he told my son that he was lazy and arrogant. To be clear, my son asked for extended time to complete an essay…one that did not allow technology which is pretty important for editing. (In case you are wondering, the kids are not allowed to write using a computer since they can’t do so on the state exam)
The teacher’s response…
“Maybe he needs to change to a new teacher. I care about all of my kids. Maybe he took something the wrong way”
Yep, that’s the answer. Don’t stop mistreating kids of color. Instead, move the kid when well-informed parents question it! (many eye rolls at this response) Also, it’s a good idea to understand the implications of words. He didn’t take anything the wrong way. What was said to him was completely wrong. Owning these mistakes is important. If only “owning incorrect actions against kids of color” was a thing.
As for my son, he acknowledges that he can do certain things differently because right now, his survival is more important than anything. He’s taking the steps necessary to do so.
He also understands that he is not alone and perhaps that is his only privilege.