Well, I did it again my response to a post has grown into a post of its own.. This started out as a response to Elfninosmom’s piece about a Wendy Portillo, kindergarten teacher, at Morningside Elementary School in Port St. Lucie, Florida who encouraged her students to excommunicate 5 year-old Alex Barton from their classroom. This is my reaction to the incident and I am not discussing the details of the incident. I want to discuss my reaction from three perspectives.
First as an educator.
What the Portillo did is inexcusable. She is supposedly a college educated intelligent adult. It is her responsibility to create an environment where are all children are accepted. Yet she is little more than an overgrown classroom bully.
My experiences as a learning facilitator taught me that some teachers have little tolerance for any child who is not “normal”. In the old days special needs children were often excluded from school. That was until the 1970’s and “Education for All Handicapped Children” (now IDEA) was passed and special education became mandatory. That means that schools do not have to provide advanced classes, sports or other extra-curricular but are required to provide services for special needs children. For many years special needs children were shipped off to special classes or resource rooms for part or all day. In the 1980’s and 1990’s inclusion and content mastery became the “in thing” students were only removed from classes for extra help or not at all. Today especially with budget cuts inclusion is more popular than ever. So, what is my point? Well, the Portillo looks like she has been teaching for a few years. I’m sure that this is not her 1st experience with a disabled youngster or difficult child. Of course, she may be the kind of teacher who believes all children must fit her mold.
I understand that some children with Asperger’s Syndrome can be challenging to teach especially if you have other children in the classroom. Over the years I have had several students with some form of Autism and most did well in my class. As a professional educator it is one’s responsibility to help all students succeed in the classroom especially in the lower grades. My policy was that any student who desired to pass and was willing to work for the grade would pass.
Finally, this is the last week of May all students are going to be a little rowdy and even the good ones act like hellions. Couldn’t the Portillo make it one more week? Maybe she is just a very mean and vindictive individual. Her behavior was extremely unprofessional. In the very least the teacher should be censured and loose her teaching credentials permanently.
As someone who has a learning disability.
One of my teachers in elementary school had zero tolerance for my learning disabilities. To be successful in school I required only minor accommodations due to my severe dysgraphia. It is still painful to think about the teacher’s action. It was emotionally damaging for me as a child to be publicly humiliated. It was embarrassing when she would dump my desk on the floor and encourage other children to laugh at me and call me stupid. From that time until high school graduation my nickname was “Stupid ” or “Dummy“.
As a human
I am appalled that an adult is so insensitive that she would have no problem torturing an 5 year-old. Is this woman some sort of monster or does she have absolutely no conscience? This precious little boy was created in God’s image. Alex deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
What kind of example is Portillo modeling for impressionable young children? In effect she is saying that it is acceptable to treat those with special needs as less than human.
My Suggestions for Dealing with Portillo
The Port St. Lucie Police Department have decided not to file child abuse charges against Portillo. It really isn’t surprising that no charges have been filed. She poses no future threat to Alex.
Portillio’s teaching career should be over permanently. Further, her teaching certification should be revoked. While I think she should never teach, I think mandatory community service working with disabled children might not be bad.
I think it would also be good for Portillio to get a dose of her own medicine. Maybe have her stand in front of the school or other public building holding a sign stating I pick on 5-year-olds. Also, I think Melissa Barton, Alex’s mom should be given an oportunity to make a victim’s impact statement to Portillio.