Friday, May 30, 2008

Mama Bear's Cubs and the Fate of Invaders

From the article about the police report on teh Alex Barton incident:

"...Portillo and children in the class said Alex was pushing a table up with his feet while he was under the table. She got the school resource officer to remove Alex from the classroom. It was the second discipline referral for Alex that day, the report said.

Portillo told the officer after he left the classroom with Alex, she talked with the other children.

“Portillo said she explained to them that the students in class were all her priority and she would protect them like a ‘bear defending her cubs,’” the report said.

When Alex returned to the class, Portillo said she and the class were not ready for him to return.

Portillo told the officer she asked Alex to join her at the front of the class. ..."

This makes it so crystal clear to me, the whole crux of this situation. Wendy Portillo's class children were her priority, and she was willing to protect her kids like a mama bear... except Alex. He didn't count. He was an outsider, an invader, an interloper. Knowing full well that he was in the process of being placed into special education with a pervasive developmental disability, instead of protecting him, she threw him out. Instead of talking to her children about inclusiveness, tolerance, and support for a classmate who was clearly having a hard time, she had them tell him to his face what they thought of him, and threw him out.

The students in her class were not "all her priority." Only the ones she thought deserved to be. Those others, though assigned to her classroom, are aliens. Disturbances.


Many of us are working hard to get our kids included, and so this strikes a hot nerve. Will our kids be supported and accepted into the community, or forever ostracized as "other"? Will they count as one of the students, or be thrown own to fend for themselves? Incidents such as these point to an alarming, heart-wrenching answer. As long as these kinds of incidents continue- often more subtle than the case of Alex Barton- we fear for our kids, and know the road ahead is long.


little.birdy said...

Buh wuh? The more I hear about this, the more confused I get. Yes, Alex's behavior was unacceptable. Yes, having a dialog about that behavior and how it made others feel was probably a good call. She had the right idea. What stumps me is why she felt like she had to go the extra mile and turn the dialog into ridicule. I can only hope that something good comes out of this fiasco and that school systems become motivated to develop a specific strategy for dealing with consistent inappropriate behavior...did this kid ever have a functional behavior assessment? What is WRONG with people?!

Maddy said...

I read the report....somewhere or other earlier today, and how the children explained what they didn't like about Alex.

It put me in mind of what they do in my boys class - once a week on a Friday each of the children takes a turn to describe what they liked that week about another child in their class.

Lucky us

abfh said...

I've seen TV nature programs showing that bears, when they have an opportunity, will eat other bears' cubs. That's what this reminds me of.