Last week, a teacher walked into my 10-year-old daughter’s math class, handed her math teacher a stack of envelopes and told the kids, “If you get a letter, that means you have to come see me for extra practice.” Lily got a letter. When I took the letter from her folder, she burst into tears.
“Why are you crying, sweetheart? What’s wrong?” I asked. She said, “I’m dumb.”
The letter indicated that she was eligible for Title 1 math--which, I'll be perfectly honest, I had no idea what that even meant and had to google it. I assured her she wasn't dumb, even if she did need extra help in math and then started typing...cause that's what I do.
Even before this letter arrived, I had already had it with middle school in just a few short weeks.
It started with "gifted" children.
Evidently parents use this identification to feel superior. Then their kids use it to feel superior. I guess it is widely known these kids get special treatment because they will get the test scores needed to label our school system “excellent with distinction.” I should know this; my older kids went all the way through Lakeview's "gifted" program, which is/was in fact excellent with distinction. But I didn't.
At Lakeview Middle School, we put said fourth graders inside the building, and the average or below average or whatever you want to call the other kids are relegated to trailers outside.
I've been told by several students, "Oh yeah, everyone knows the smart kids are inside and the dumb kids are outside."
Are you fucking kidding me?
A few weeks ago, I read about a 13-year-old girl who took her own life rather than return to a school where she had been bullied.
Schools install systems to prevent our kids from being killed by intruders--my dear friend actually invented one.
They institute zero-tolerance policies against bullying.
Then the exact people who are supposed to protect our children walk in and hand out letters that say, “YOU. NEED. HELP.” Or "You. Are. Dumb," as it said to my child.
So, I emailed the teacher. I emailed the principal. And, I just wrote an email to the superintendent.
No one contacted me to tell me Lily was "struggling" in math. She brought home A's and B's last year and scored "accelerated" on the spring standardized tests. Lily said she asked one question in class, and she herself did not feel she was "struggling." If a child needs extra help, I would think the parents would be the first point of contact.
We have declined this extra help. Lily has confirmed that her dad, the electrical engineer, is really good at helping her with her math homework even via facetime.
All that aside? She still doesn't want to go to school. And really...middle school is hard enough without this added nonsense.
I waited for awhile to post this because I've been soooooo angry, but nothing is changing, and no one is responding, and my kid still doesn't want to go to school. So please, parents, teachers, friends, I implore you to share your opinions with me. Do other kids feel like this? I know a few who do. How can I encourage this kid who's told every day in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that she is less-than? Why is it okay to do this? And what can we do to change it?